16 December 2005
Presidents, Prosecutors of Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia Tribunals Brief Security Council on Progress in Implementing Completion Strategies
Say Aim to Conclude by 2010, but Schedule Will Be Affected by Apprehension of At-Large Indictees, Transfer of Cases to National Courts
NEW YORK, 15 December (UN Headquarters) -- Senior officials of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda briefed the Security Council this morning on progress towards implementing their completion strategies, stressing the need for cooperation by States in apprehending and transferring indictees, which was a crucial element for the successful conclusion of their work, for rendering justice to the victims of atrocities and for promoting reconciliation.
According to their Council-endorsed completion strategies, the Hague-based Yugoslav Tribunal and the Arusha-based Rwanda Tribunal are to complete investigations by the end of 2004, end trials by 2008, and close down before the end of 2010.
Addressing the Council for the first time in his capacity as President of the Yugoslav Tribunal, Fausto Pocar said the recent arrest and transfer of fugitive Ante Gotovina meant the Tribunal was one step closer to reaching the goal of bringing all remaining high-ranking accused before it. At the same time, failure to arrest the remaining six indictees at large remained a "major concern", he said, citing the insufficient cooperation by the Republika Srpska to provide information leading to the arrest of the two most wanted fugitives, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
He said his predecessor had informed the Council that the growing number of new cases made it likely that the trials could run into 2009 -- and concluding them by the end of that year depended on, among others, the arrest and trial of Karadzic and Mladic, the smooth running of cases of multiple accused, and the transfer of cases to national courts. He assured the Council that the Tribunal remained fully committed to discharging its mandate, saying "It is crucial that the Tribunal not close its doors without all remaining fugitives being tried. The Tribunal must complete its mandate such that its fundamental message and legacy remain -- that the international community will not tolerate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and will not allow them to go unpunished".
The Tribunal's Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, stressed that the failure to bring Karadzic and Mladic into the Tribunal's custody was the "major impediment" to the success of its work. As implementation of the completion strategy advanced, it was daily becoming more crucial to bring those two indictees to The Hague, as any further delay would impact on the strategy. She cited the sharing of information and lack of coordination efforts among the reasons for the failure. And, until recently, there was no political will on the part of either the Republika Srpska or Serbia and Montenegro to "go aggressively after Karadzic and Mladic". At the rhetorical level at least, that had now changed.
For 10 years, she added, the international community had been "playing cat-and-mouse" with Karadzic and Mladic, and for much of that time, the "cats" chose to wear blindfolds, to claw at each other, and to allow the "mice" to run from one hole to another. It was time now for the cats to remove their blindfolds, and for the international community and the local governments to take concerted action to find those fugitives, arrest them and turn them over to the Tribunal, so it could administer the justice the Council had promised the people of the former Yugoslavia in 1993. "It is time now for the cats to stop suffering the ridicule of the mice", she said.
Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal, elaborated on a number of significant developments that had occurred in the implementation of the Court's completion strategy, saying it had been able to commence new trials, conclude the prosecution of some cases, apprehend some indictees and register steady progress in the ongoing trials of what was now the largest number of accused ever to be put on trial simultaneously at the Rwanda Tribunal.
Soon after his last report to the Council, he said he had handed over 10 case files to the Rwanda Prosecutor General to consider prosecuting before the Rwandan courts. At the end of November, he handed over an additional five files to the Prosecutor General, bringing the number of cases now handed over to Rwanda to 30 case files. He had been assured that Rwanda remained ready to receive cases of indictees on transfer from the Tribunal, and that it would be taking the necessary measures relating to fair trial procedures and the abolition of the death penalty in order to clear the way for that process to begin. Efforts should be deployed urgently to ensure that all the legislative and other obstacles to referral of cases to Rwanda were removed.
Over the past few months, reported President Eric Møse, the Rwanda Tribunal had been very busy, handling 10 trials involving 26 accused. While everyone in the courtroom was working extremely hard, considerable work remained to be done. He, too, stressed the need for State cooperation in relation to the transfer of cases and arrest of fugitives, saying that impunity for perpetrators of mass atrocities was no viable option. Another area where the Tribunal depended on the assistance of States was the relocation of acquitted persons. Commending Rwanda's continued cooperation with the Tribunal, he reiterated the need for capacity-building in order to strengthen that country's judicial system.
Council members welcomed the arrest and transfer of Ante Gotovina, and the cooperation of the Croatian and Spanish authorities in that regard. In doing so, they also called on other countries in the region to follow Croatia's example and fulfil their obligations to the Tribunal. Both Tribunals were strongly encouraged to make all efforts to complete their activities in accordance with the completion strategies. To that end, it was suggested that all appropriate measures be explored, including the transfer of ongoing trials to the domestic courts. In that connection, a number of delegations also cited the need to ensure sufficient guarantees for due process, which could not be set aside for meeting deadlines.
The concern of the Government and people of Rwanda, particularly the genocide survivors, stated its representative, was that the perpetrators of the genocide should not be allowed to evade justice. The Tribunal's completion strategy should not be seen as an exit strategy for the obligations of the international community to bring all the suspects of the crime of genocide to trial at the Tribunal or in Rwanda. Measures must be put in place to ensure that all accused were brought to justice, even after the Tribunal's mandate had expired.
Likewise, the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina said it was of paramount importance that all indictees were brought to justice, in order for the Yugoslav Tribunal to successfully complete its work. Moreover, only then would a genuine reconciliation of the western Balkans be possible, thus opening the way to lasting stability and prosperity of the whole region within the European mainstream.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Romania, Russian Federation, Benin, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Denmark, Philippines, United Republic of Tanzania, Greece, France, Algeria, United States, China, United Kingdom, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 1:52 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It had before it letters from the Presidents of the Tribunals, which would be issued as documents of the Council under the symbols S/2005/781 and S/2005/782, containing reports on the work of the Tribunals over the past six months, including efforts towards completing their work by the 2010 target set by the Council.
Addressing the Council for the first time in his capacity as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, FAUSTO POCAR, presented the fourth report of the Tribunal President on the completion strategy pursuant to resolution 1534 of 26 March 2004. The report explains the measures taken and challenges faced by the Tribunal from June to November of this year, in its efforts to meet the goals of the completion strategy. The report also provides an updated prognosis with regard to implementation.
As members were aware, he recalled that Ante Gotovina, one of the Tribunal's highest-level accused persons, who had long been at large, was recently arrested in Spain and transferred to the Tribunal on 10 December. That meant the Court was one step closer to reaching the goal of bringing all remaining high-ranking accused before it. Another sentencing judgement was rendered by the Trial Chamber in the Bralo case on 7 December. The work of the Tribunal was ever moving forward. In the last six months, the three Trial Chambers and the Appeals Chamber had continued to operate at full capacity. The Trial Chambers were hearing six trials simultaneously and were currently managing 18 cases in the pre-trial stage. At the same time, four new contempt trials involving six accused had begun. In the reporting period since May, the Trial Chambers had rendered three judgements involving five accused. One involving two accused was due to be issued in January 2006, and two more judgements were expected by mid-2006.
The Appeals Chamber had disposed of 30 appeals, both from the Tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since the last report, he noted. Of those, four had been judgements. In January and February 2006, three more judgements were expected. The Tribunal's caseload continued to grow. Since May 2005, four more indictees had been apprehended, resulting in a total of 21 accused that had been, or were being, transferred to the Tribunal in the past year. That number represented a greater than 50 per cent increase in the number of persons awaiting trial, as reported in November 2004. At present, 45 accused, or 18 cases, awaited trial, and only six out of a total of 161 indictees remained at large.
Turning to efforts being made towards implementing the completion strategy, he covered the following areas: internal steps taken towards implementing the completion strategy; the great benefit arising from the Council's enhanced support, through several resolutions, for the ad litem Judges; the referral of cases of intermediate and lower-ranking accused from the Tribunal to competent national jurisdictions (to date, the Prosecutor had filed 12 such referral motions, involving 20 accused); cooperation by States in the region; and the prognosis for the Tribunal's implementation of the completion strategy.
Regarding cooperation of States, he said that was paramount to the Court's success in finishing its work. In the past six months, cooperation had been improving in some areas. However, failure to arrest the remaining six indictees at large remained a "major concern". Cooperation with Croatia was now satisfactory. Bosnia and Herzegovina's level of cooperation remained very good at both the Federal and State levels. With respect to the Republika Srpska, while there were encouraging signs of cooperation, that remained insufficient, owing to the failure by the Republika Srpska to provide information leading to the arrest of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. As to Serbia and Montenegro's cooperation, that had improved, but failure to surrender the remaining fugitives was a serious concern. He urged the international community to maintain its pressure on that matter, as Serbia and Montenegro's expressed goodwill must be translated into actions and results.
Noting that the number of accused at large had been reduced from 10 to six with the arrest of four indictees in the reporting period, he said that the most recent arrests demonstrated that the Tribunal remained dependent for the completion of its mandate on the cooperation of all Member States, in addition to the cooperation of States in the Balkans. Regarding the prognosis for concluding the completion strategy, his predecessor had stated in May that it was definitely no longer feasible to envisage an end of all trial activity by the end of 2008, owing to the large number of indictees and fugitives who had arrived at the Tribunal since the last report, as well as the filing and confirmation of seven new or amended indictments by the Prosecution involving 13 accused. He had predicted that trials would have to run into 2009.
Six months later, Judge Pocar could only confirm that prediction. Whether the growing number of trials would conclude by the end of 2009 depended on the following factors, among others: the arrest and trial of Karadzic and Mladic; and the continued "joinder" of cases into single trials of multiple accused as a time-saving measure. If the situation arose where two of the original Judges in a case needed to be replaced, that could only mean that the trial would have to re-start under the Tribunal's Rules. He had explored all possible options for avoiding such a re-trial, and the alternative solution would be for the appointment of a fourth reserve, or stand-by, Judge to new trials of multiple accused. Such a Judge would hear the case from start to finish, and would be able to step in where two of the original Judges were no longer able to sit. He brought that to the Council's attention, since such an appointment would require its approval.
Given those and other factors, he said he could predict that, if the remaining fugitives were apprehended soon, if the cases of multiple accused ran smoothly, and if the remaining Rule 11 bis motions were all referred without any cases being deferred back to the Tribunal, the possibility of the trials finishing in 2009 "remained possible". That assessment, however, might be affected further by a number of additional variables. For example, unforeseen issues causing delay might arise, including the ill-health of the accused, the changing of counsel during the proceedings, the loss of experienced and talented staff, and an increased number of contempt cases brought before the Tribunal. On the other hand, some factors might contribute to accelerating proceedings, including the entry of new guilty pleas, and the possible construction of a fourth courtroom.
In any event, he assured the Council that the Tribunal remained fully committed to its completion strategy and would continue to do all in its power to discharge its mandate as efficiently as possible. He trusted that the achievements of the Tribunal were evidence of its absolute commitment to search for every possible way to maximize its efficiency and efficacy, without sacrificing due-process norms. In establishing the Tribunal, the Council had made an historic decision to restore international peace and security through the vehicle of international justice. "It is crucial that the Tribunal not close its doors without all remaining fugitives being tried. The Tribunal must complete its mandate such that its fundamental message and legacy remain -- that the international community will not tolerate genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity and will not allow them to go unpunished", he concluded.
ERIK MØSE, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, presented the updated version of the Tribunal's Completion Strategy, submitted to the Council on 5 December. Also before the Council was the tenth annual report covering the period from 1 July 2004 to 30 June 2005. He noted there had been steady progress at the Tribunal since he and the Prosecutor had appeared before the Council in June. The number of accused with their cases completed or ongoing was now 52.
With the rendering of a judgement on 13 December in the case of Aloys Simba, the number of accused having received judgement rose to 26 since the first trials started in 1997, he said. Following the sentencing hearing on 19 January 2006 in the Bisengimana case, the number of persons with completed cases would soon be 27. The Bisengimana case was the sixth guilty plea at the Tribunal. In addition to those two completed single-accused cases, two new cases started during the last six months -- the Mpambara and Zigiranyirazo trials. A third new trial -- Karera -- was scheduled to commence on 9 January 2006.
He then provided updates with regard to three single-accused cases that were in progress at the time the Council met in June. Those cases -- Seromba, Muvunyi and Rwamakuba -- were approaching completion, and judgements would be rendered in 2006. That would make room for the commencement of new single-accused trials. Over the past few months, the Tribunal had been very busy, handling 10 trials involving 26 accused. Everyone in the courtroom was working extremely hard. Still, considerable work remained to be done.
In relation to the transfer of cases and arrest of fugitives, he stressed that State cooperation was absolutely essential for the Tribunal. Impunity for perpetrators of mass atrocities was no viable option. Another area where the Tribunal depended on the assistance of States was the relocation of acquitted persons. States should consider it a common responsibility, and an important contribution to international criminal justice, to find a solution to the relocation of acquitted persons.
Rwanda, he said, had continued to cooperate with the Tribunal by facilitating a steady flow of witnesses from Kigali to Arusha and by providing documents of relevance to the court proceedings. He reiterated the need for capacity-building inside Rwanda, in order to strengthen the judicial system within a country, which was faced with an enormous task. He concluded by saying that the Tribunal was on course in relation to its completion strategy. The Tribunal remained committed to the deadline for completion of trials established by the Council.
CARLA DEL PONTE, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said that, for six years now, the Tribunal had had to report to the Council that the failure to bring Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic into the Tribunal's custody was the "major impediment" to the success of its work. As implementation of the completion strategy advanced, it was daily becoming more crucial to bring those two indictees to The Hague, as any further delay would impact on the strategy. When she presented her last assessment to the Council on 13 June, she had been "cautiously optimistic". There was a momentum at that time, and it was legitimate to believe that the issue of fugitives could be resolved, once and for all, in a matter of a few months. The Serbian Government, in particular, had raised expectations that Mladic would be transferred to The Hague before the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide, on 11 July, or, at the latest, at the beginning of October. That had not happened, as everyone knew.
She said there had also been hope that, once Mladic was in The Hague, efforts would focus on Karadzic. As far as she knew, there was no reliable confirmed information on either of those two accused, and she was not aware of any "credible" attempt to locate and apprehend them. The Office of the Prosecutor had no explicit mandate to arrest indictees. It had a responsibility, however, to ensure that arrest warrants were executed and that indictees were tried. Since trials in absentia were not permitted, the accused must be brought to The Hague, either through arrests or voluntary surrenders. In 2001, she had decided to begin carrying out small-scale tracking activities for a combination of reasons, including that 24 accused were still at large. The tracking activities, however, were meant to remain of a mainly coordinating nature, because her Office could not and would not build up the technical and human resources necessary to carry out sophisticated intelligence operations.
She said that, as far as she knew, neither the relevant States inside or outside the region, nor international organizations, had ever managed to come close to arresting Karadzic or Mladic and, until recently, they had been unwilling to provide the Tribunal with useful information on those fugitives or to coordinate efforts. She could provide many examples to illustrate that "dysfunctional" situation, but it was not the place or the time to go into such detail. After 10 years of failures, it was legitimate to ask, however: "What did we do wrong? What can we do better?"
It was obvious to all informed observers that, in the first years after the indictments were issued, there was no political will, either from the local authorities in Republika Srpska or in Serbia, or from the international forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to arrest Karadzic or Mladic, she said. It had been particularly well-documented that, two years after they were indicted, Karadzic and Mladic were moving freely in Republika Srpska. It was only after the fall of Milosevic in 2000 that the international community had expressed the political will to bring them to justice. That political will, however, was never translated into the creation of the effective operational instruments necessary for that purpose. Citing several reasons for that failure, she said that the circulation of information among interested actors, domestic and international, had been inadequate. Intelligence-gathering efforts nationally were "jealously guarded" by the various national authorities for themselves. For example, it was only after cumbersome procedures and long delays that her Office, recently, was finally given partial access to useful information obtained by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Beyond the sheer sharing of data, she cited a lack of coordination efforts. For example, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, after asking the local authorities to implement certain surveillance measures, a third party had interfered to request those authorities to discontinue those measures. Her attempts to receive explanations were never answered. Such communication gaps fed the confusion and could not lead to positive results. In addition, the capture of Karadzic and Mladic was no longer such a high priority for the international community, in a way that justified allocating substantial technical and human resources to it. Most intelligence assets had left the Balkans, so she was relying mainly on the local authorities in the Republika Srpska and Serbia and Montenegro to carry out the arrests. And, until recently, there was no political will on the part of either of those parties to "go aggressively after Karadzic and Mladic". At the rhetorical level at least, that had changed now.
To sum up that most crucial issue, she said her main partners in the hunt for Karadzic and Mladic were now the Governments of Serbia and Montenegro and the relevant authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international community, through conditionality, was providing political incentives for the local authorities to arrest those indictees. On operational issues, however, its involvement had been minimal in the past two years. She was ready to provide more details to the Council, but those should not be discussed in a public meeting.
She said she was pursuing possible remedies, despite her limited resources. For example, mechanisms must be set up or revised for meaningful planning and exchanges of information between those involved in intelligence-gathering activities. Also, current efforts aimed at "breaking" the support networks protecting Karadzic and Mladic must be further aggressively pursued. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro must be made accountable for their failure to bring them to justice. At the end of the day, the responsibility was theirs. Experience had shown that the political pressure from the European Union and the United States was the most significant factor encouraging the States of the former Yugoslavia to transfer indictees to The Hague. As the two most important leaders responsible for the worst crimes were still at large, the international community must remain fully committed.
As Prosecutor, she said she was expected to do her utmost to bring all indictees to justice. However, there was no domestic judicial system where the prosecutor had such limited coercive powers and could not instruct police forces to collect intelligence or arrest accused individuals. If the States with the power to locate them were not interested in providing information or otherwise cooperating with her Office in the search, then that certainly made the fulfilment of the Tribunal's mandate impossible.
She reviewed the situations of other fugitives, and added that, in Kosovo, her Office was encountering difficulties in accessing documents from the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The cooperation provided by UNMIK in the protection of witnesses had also sometimes been less than optimal. Her Office was not convinced that the Mission was properly exerting its control over the conditions set by the Chambers for Haradinaj's provisional release.
Indeed, she said, the intimidation of witnesses was a grave problem in Kosovo. It was widespread, systematic, and it had a very serious impact on court proceedings at the Tribunal. In the Limaj case, for example, several witnesses had eventually refused to appear and testify, or withdrew or changed their testimony because they were intimidated or afraid. That might have influenced the outcome of the first instance judgement, which had been rendered on 30 November. The arrest of the remaining six fugitives and the access to key documents and witnesses were issues deeply affecting the completion strategy. Those were largely beyond her control, even though her Office continued to use all means at its disposal to try to make progress towards their arrest. Her Office was confronted with powerful structures, which had no interest in cooperating.
Despite her report, significant progress had been achieved in three areas. First, the Court had continued to pursue its policy of referring cases involving mid- and low-level perpetrators to the domestic jurisdictions. Second, it had undertaken to save time and resources by proposing to the Chambers to join certain similar cases. And, third, it had taken steps to adapt the structure and management of the Office to the evolution of the completion strategy. She thanked the Governments of Croatia and Spain for having brought Ante Gotovina to The Hague, as well as the European Union and its member countries for having provided the Tribunal with the political support that contributed so much to that result. That could serve as a model to overcome the difficulties she encountered in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia and Montenegro.
In conclusion, she said that, for 10 years, the Tribunal had been facing "grave systemic deficiencies" in the efforts to capture Karadzic and Mladic. There was no coordination mechanism, or even a desire to coordinate the various activities, not to speak about sharing the most basic information. For 10 years, the international community had been "playing cat-and-mouse" with Karadzic and Mladic, and for much of that time, the "cats" chose to wear blindfolds, to claw at each other, and to allow the "mice" to run from one hole to another. It was time now for the cats to remove their blindfolds. It was time for the international community and the local governments, especially in Serbia and Montenegro and the Republika Srpska, to take concerted action to find the places where those fugitives were hiding and to arrest them and turn them over to the Tribunal, so it could administer the justice the Security Council had promised the people of the former Yugoslavia in 1993. "It is time now for the cats to stop suffering the ridicule of the mice", she said.
HASSAN BUBACAR JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that since the last report to the Council in June, a number of significant developments had occurred in the implementation of the completion strategy, as set out in the document submitted to the Council. The Tribunal had been able to commence new trials, conclude the prosecution of some cases, apprehend some indictees and register steady progress in the ongoing trials of what was now the largest number of accused ever to be put on trial simultaneously at the Rwanda Tribunal.
Six months ago, he informed the Council that the focus of the Office of the Prosecutor would be to: ensure that the ongoing cases proceeded efficiently and the cases of the remaining detainees were prepared for trial; effectively track and arrest the indicted fugitives; and commence referral proceedings in respect of indictees to national jurisdictions for prosecution. That focus remained the same, he said. The ongoing trials were proceeding satisfactorily and, barring unforeseen delays which might arise, he expected the hearings of the major multi-accused cases of at least Military I, Government II and Butare to be concluded by the end of 2006. That should leave considerable room for the remaining cases to be dealt with and concluded by 2008.
Following the conclusion of new investigations at the end of 2004, the strength of the Investigations Division in Kigali would be reduced considerably in the context of the 2006-2007 budgets and again in 2008. It was necessary to retain some capacity in the Division, although in declining numbers up to closure in 2010 to meet the needs of trial support, appeal support, tracking of fugitives, and witness and confidential sources management.
Soon after his last report to the Council, he said he had handed over 10 case files to the Rwanda Prosecutor General to consider prosecuting before the Rwandan courts. At the end of November, he handed over an additional five files to the Prosecutor General, bringing the number of cases now handed over to Rwanda to 30 case files. He had also referred two cases to a European jurisdiction, which had agreed to consider the targets for prosecution. That was in addition to one case already referred to a European jurisdiction whose prosecution had commenced. Three other case files were under review for referral to other national jurisdictions.
He had been assured that Rwanda remained ready to receive cases of indictees on transfer from the Tribunal, and that it would be taking the necessary measures relating to fair trial procedures and the abolition of the death penalty in order to clear the way for that process to begin. In addition to those measures, Rwanda required substantial resources to help develop the capacity of its legal system to effectively prosecute such cases. Efforts should be deployed urgently to ensure that all the legislative and other obstacles to referral of cases to Rwanda were removed.
The tracking and apprehension of fugitives continued to be a major challenge for the Tribunal, he said. There were now 19 indictees at large. Among them was Felicien Kabuga, who, according to the Tribunal's intelligence, continued to remain in Kenya. The Government of Kenya should be encouraged to make more intensive efforts to track, arrest and hand over Mr. Kabuga to the Tribunal, as well as to track and seize all his assets in Kenya. With regard to other fugitives, many of whom continued to hide in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the tracking team would continue to intensify its efforts and, with the requisite cooperation from States, he anticipated more arrests in 2006.
The Tribunal remained confident of its ability to complete the trials, as well as the appeals, of all those persons who were currently in its custody within the completion strategy deadlines, he said. However, that was dependent on the continued provision of the necessary resources and on the continued support of Member States.
The challenges faced were twofold: the arrest of the remaining 19 fugitives who were at large; and the referral to national jurisdictions of the cases which had been so earmarked. All Member States should be urged to fulfil their legal obligations by arresting and transferring fugitives who were in their territory to the Tribunal. It was important, for the struggle against impunity, that all the indictees be prosecuted, whether at the Tribunal or elsewhere. Member States should share the burden of prosecution with the Tribunal by accepting cases on referral or by helping build capacity in those States that were willing, in order to enable them to do so.
MIHNEA MOTOC (Romania) said the apprehension and transfer of General Ante Gotovina to the Yugoslav Tribunal represented the most significant achievement of the last six months, and a landmark in the overall activity of the Tribunal. The level of cooperation with the Tribunal extended by the Croatian authorities throughout the reporting period, culminating in their decisive contribution to locating Mr. Gotovina, set the bar high for all the countries in the region that were still lagging behind in fully observing their obligations with the Tribunal. He noted with satisfaction that the number of indictees still at large had been brought down to six, and encouraged all relevant actors and States in the region to step up their efforts to bring to justice the remaining fugitives.
He was encouraged to note the significant progress achieved so far by both Tribunals in relation to their completion strategies, he said. The transfer of cases involving medium- and low-level accused to national jurisdiction was an essential component of those strategies. While a number of cases had already been referred to the newly established Special War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo and to local courts in Croatia, no such cases had yet been transferred to either Serbia and Montenegro or Rwanda. It was important that all countries concerned continued the process of adapting their legal frameworks so as to comply with the existing international legal standards. He added that he would welcome the inclusion, in the next report, of a separate annex containing the names and the grounds on which indictees in Kosovo-related cases had been provisionally released.
ILYA ROGACHEV (Russian Federation) said he continued to proceed from the need for strict compliance by both Tribunals with the completion strategies, in the time frames set out by the Security Council. Since June, progress had been "quite tangible". The transfer to the former Yugoslav Tribunal of several accused had made it "entirely possible" for the timely conclusion of the trial proceedings. A most important component in that process was the referral of cases of intermediate and lower-level accused to domestic courts. He highlighted the growing efforts to strengthen the potential official judicial bodies in both Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the same time, he understood the difficulties encountered in that connection with the Rwanda Tribunal. Also useful was for the joinder of cases before the Yugoslav Tribunal planned for February of next year. It would be interesting to consider possible options for the use of standby judges, with a view to ensuring continuous consideration of the cases in that connection. Hopefully, other Council members were interested in that idea, which was designed to have the Courts comply with the time frame for the completion strategies.
He said that another important element for enhancing the effectiveness of the work of the two Tribunals was their uninterrupted financing and staffing. He drew attention to the election of ad litem judges in August, for which the Council had needed to change the statute. There had been other useful personnel decisions. The measures taken by the Security Council and the General Assembly would help keep up the speedy pace of work in the former Yugoslav Tribunal and the timely implementation of the completion strategy. He was convinced of the need to apprehend and try those accused of committing the most serious crimes. He had been satisfied that the Yugoslav Tribunal had significantly increased cooperation with the States of the region in that regard. The competent Russian bodies were presently consulting with it to define the modalities for the transfer to The Hague of the detainee on Russian territory. The recently noted waning interest in the work of the Tribunals had been reflected in the difficulty in finding candidates for the ad litem judges. That only showed the importance of timely implementation of the tasks incumbent upon both Tribunals.
ANATOLE BERTIN BABADOUDOU (Benin) said that he was encouraged by the efforts of the Tribunals in the past six months, particularly in speeding up internal procedures and referring cases to national jurisdictions. He noted in particular the working group established in the Yugoslav Tribunal, which would help speed up its work. He remained somewhat pessimistic about achievement of remaining tasks by 2010. There were sufficient factors outside the control of the Yugoslav Tribunal which might delay proceedings. It was necessary to work in concert with interested States and with the willingness of the States involved to track down and apprehend fugitives as soon as possible. That was where the main task lay.
Until then, he continued, it was very difficult to foresee the length of the mandate, unless it could be determined now that those still at large might never be found and whether they should still be pursued. Further means would need to be available, including for the construction of a new courtroom and to increase the number of ad litem judges. Also, both Tribunals must pursue efforts to improve their internal management and efficiency, in order to speed up proceedings. The cooperation of States was also crucial. In addition, the Council must be able to shoulder its responsibility "to the bitter end". For Benin, the completion of the work of the Tribunals could not be measured in time, but rather measured when the last suspects were apprehended and tried. Then the work or the Tribunals would have been completed.
RONALDO MOTA SARDENBERG (Brazil) said he had appreciated the assessments of progress and of prevailing difficulties in the two courts. The United Nations was deeply committed to ensure that those responsible for the most heinous crimes against the very essence of human dignity answered to those crimes in public trials. The Tribunals must remain committed to the goals of resolution 1534, while concentrating efforts on promoting justice in both countries. Concerning the Yugoslav Tribunal, the arrest in Spain had been a major step in the fight against impunity in the former Yugoslavia. States should intensify the arrests for the remaining high-level accused, such as Karadzic and Mladic. The rigid deadlines of the completion strategies might frustrate justice, rather than assist the international community in the fight against impunity. He thanked the Courts' personnel for their efforts to accelerate the proceedings and trials, while maintaining the highest standards of due process. Speeding up the trials and joinder of cases were positive initiatives, leading to the preservation of the goals of the completion strategy.
He had also been pleased to note that adoption of resolution 1597 (2005), which had removed the prohibition on the re-election of ad litem judges, had contributed to the Tribunals' efficient functioning. Above all, he expressed the need for enhanced cooperation among the organs of the Tribunals. Judge Pocar had said he was careful to ensure that a fair trial would be accorded defendants transferred to domestic courts. Thus, judicial capacity-building and a strengthened rule of law were significant contributions to reconciling the concerns associated with referral of cases and the need to attain justice. Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, the total number of accused with completed trials or trials in progress now stood at 52. The number of accused still at large, however, was a reason for concern. He, therefore, supported the Prosecutor's efforts to visit Member States in search of political cooperation in the arrest and transfer of fugitives, as well as the transfer of non-senior detainees. As the workload of the Trial Chamber decreased, the focus would shift to the Appeals Chamber, which should anticipate increasing work. The number of judges would have to be reviewed at some future stage; periodic reports of the Court would help assess that evolving situation. The international community faced the challenge of adapting the arrangements of the Courts to due process and the rights of both victims and accused, as well as the overall objective of ending impunity. Clearly, limited financing constrained conclusion of the completion strategies.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said he was pleased that the Appeals Chambers in both Tribunals continued to operate at full capacity, which was particularly important as the Tribunals proceeded towards their completion strategies. It was necessary to ensure a permanent position for the judges appointed to the appeals proceedings. He welcomed efforts by the working groups set up by the Yugoslav Tribunal to improve rules and practices and to find ways of speeding up the work, while ensuring due process. The tasks carried out by ad litem judges were important in carrying forward cases. Also, referring cases of lower-ranking detainees was another important resource in completing the work of the Tribunal, but required sufficient guarantees to ensure due process. One way to ensure due process was to train local justice systems. Cooperation with the Tribunal was satisfactory, he noted, except in the case of Republika Srpska. He hoped Mr. Gotovina's detention would further promote the work of the Tribunal. The detention in Argentina of Milan Lukic was a good example of cooperation by States with the Tribunal.
Turning to the Rwanda Tribunal, he said that in the coming year, the cases against 17 detainees would be heard, whether in the Tribunal or in national jurisdictions. In the latter case, sufficient guarantees for respect of due process must be provided and the death penalty must not exist in national legislation. Every effort must also be made to bring to justice those suspects not yet detained. On the completion strategies, he said it was not easy to set specific dates. An individual's right to freedom and due process could not be set aside in trying to meet deadlines. The success and efficiency of the work of the Tribunals would have an effect on the support and cooperation provided by States to the International Criminal Court.
SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said that, in his report, Judge Pocar had indicated that, despite efforts, trials might not end by the end of 2009 and might continue beyond that date, if the remaining fugitives were not apprehended within the coming months. While he understood the concerns that prompted that observation, he expressed his concern about the possibility of further extension of the Yugoslav Tribunal's mandate beyond the date envisaged in its completion strategy. In that connection, he said both Tribunals should be strongly encouraged to make all efforts to complete their activities in accordance with the completion strategies by the final deadline -- by the end of 2010. To that end, all measures necessary and appropriate should be explored, including the transfer of ongoing trials to the domestic courts.
Second, he continued, if the activities of the Tribunals should continue beyond the deadline in the strategies, it was necessary to consider the possibility that the necessary funding for the Tribunals beyond the deadline should be met by voluntary contributions by States directly concerned and by States especially interested. It would be difficult for Japan to justify the continued funding of the Tribunals beyond the completion point of 2010, should it become necessary, other than through voluntary contributions. From a long-term point of view, the process of achieving justice and ending impunity would require, and benefit from, a parallel cooperative effort, in addition to international criminal tribunals, that would promote and sustain the rule of law and the mechanism of fair trials at the community and national levels.
LARS FAABORG-ANDERSEN (Denmark) said the Tribunals made invaluable contributions in the common endeavour to fight impunity, and they were instrumental in the national reconciliation processes. Their impact went far beyond the cases under their jurisdiction and beyond the countries immediately concerned. The Council had called on both Tribunals to complete all first-instance activities by the end of 2008. He welcomed their hard work, but he also understood that, currently, neither expected to be able to meet the target date. The Yugoslavia Tribunal was now aiming for 2009, while the Rwanda Tribunal had not provided a specific target date. Admittedly, it was not easy to predict the path of unfolding justice. The Tribunals were best positioned to make the difficult and bold decisions required to keep the implementation of the completion strategies on track and get the job done on time. He urged them to remain vigilant.
He urged the Yugoslav Tribunal to accelerate its work, firstly, by streamlining the pre-trial phase. He also encouraged it to make full use of guilty pleas by not presenting evidence for facts to which both parties had agreed. In terms of putting a fourth courtroom to full use, the Council would have to carefully consider increasing the number of judges. One option could be to increase the number of ad litem judges from nine to 12. Another could be to allow the permanent judges to sit in on more trials at the same time. Justice must be served in strict accordance with international standards of due process, including the cases being transferred to competent national courts. Such transfers had great potential for strengthening national ownership of reconciliation, justice and the rule of law, but that potential could only be realized if international standards of justice were met. Timely national capacity-building had to be an integral part of the transfers. It was incumbent on all to do facilitate the Tribunals' work, including punctual payment of assessed contributions.
EMMA ROMANO SARNE (Philippines) said that, on the Yugoslav Tribunal, she was awaiting the further report of the working group on speeding up trials, which focused on improvements to pre-trial and trial practice, particularly its views on increasing the efficient disposal of pre-trial motions. She noted with much satisfaction the apprehension of Mr. Gotovina, and lauded the efforts of the Spanish Government in facilitating his arrest and transfer to the Tribunal. It was through such cooperative efforts among States that perpetrators of horrific crimes against humanity were brought to justice. She also welcomed the efforts of the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal in formulating a more aggressive programme for tracking and apprehending fugitives and requesting cooperation with Member States in that regard.
She lauded all the efforts of the two Tribunals in referring cases to competent national jurisdictions and undertaking measures to build local capacity of national courts. While the principal judicial purpose of the two Tribunals had been to recover the universality and equal application of law, both had also been designed to promote peace by restoring the authority of law and justice in the communities that had been victimized by such atrocities. The Tribunals were, thus, meant to foster national reconciliation. Fully cognizant of the challenges and difficulties to achieve the completion strategies, she appealed to all States to cooperate fully with the Tribunals, specifically in bringing fugitives to justice, as that was crucial in the achievement of the completion strategies. Her delegation would not want to see any further adjustment to those strategies.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) commended the Tribunals for their continuing efforts to implement their respective completion strategies. While the Rwanda Tribunal was striving to live up to the date set for the completion of its work, he wondered whether the appeals process would be completed by 2010, especially given that most of the work would be concluded on the "tail end" of the Tribunal's mandate. As trails were completed by both Tribunals, the Appeals Chambers were bound to be strained. For its part, the Council must begin to address the question of increasing the number of judges at the Appeals Chambers to facilitate the completion strategies' implementation. In the case of the Rwanda Tribunal, he appealed to all Member States to cooperate with it in arresting and transferring the fugitives to Arusha to face justice. Part of the completion strategy must include the transfer of suspects to national jurisdictions; countries should be assisted in prosecuting cases. The overriding factor in determining the transfers should be compliance of the respective national courts with international standards of fair trial, he stressed.
Given that the Yugoslav Tribunal continued to receive new indictees, he said that that would impact the completion strategy, and noted that the President confirmed that the completion date of the trials was now 2009. He commended the inventive ways adopted by that Tribunal to speed up the trails, including faster filing, expedited translation of trial judgements, and the joinder of cases. He also commended the Court's progress in referring cases to national jurisdictions. Capacity to handle complex war crimes cases was steadily increasing in the local courts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro. He welcomed efforts at enhancing national capacities through training of judges, round-table discussions, visiting judges, among other activities. He supported the Prosecutor's promise to take back a trial, if a fair trial was not accorded on a national referral. He also appealed to Member States to pay their assessed contributions and to make more voluntary contributions to enable the two Tribunals to complete their work.
ADAMANTIOS TH. VASSILAKIS (Greece) said that the continuing failure of the States concerned to apprehend and surrender the remaining fugitives was a serious impediment to the implementation of the completion strategies of the Tribunals. As had been repeatedly emphasized, the courts would not have fulfilled their historic mission unless all fugitives at large were apprehended and brought to justice. Hopefully, at today's critical stage of the completion strategy, the States concerned would fully cooperate with the Tribunals and assist them in their efforts to deal with past abuses. A key component of that strategy was the referral of cases concerning intermediate and lower-rank accused to competent national jurisdictions. So far, the Prosecutor of the Yugoslav Tribunal had filed 12 referral motions involving 20 accused. Likewise, the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal had already commenced the process of requesting the transfer of cases to national jurisdictions. Both had been careful to ensure compliance with international fair trial standards on the cases transferred and the files transmitted.
He said that another important measure in that regard was the building of local capacity of national courts, particularly the training of local judiciary and prosecutors. He, therefore, welcomed the working visits organized by the Yugoslav Tribunal with national prosecutors and judges, as well as the various capacity-building initiatives taken within the region. The completion strategy of the Tribunals was of paramount importance. The President of the Yugoslav Tribunal had provided a clear picture of the ongoing efforts of the two working groups of judges formed to examine how to improve the procedures and practices of the Trial and Appeals Chambers to achieve maximum judicial output. He noted with interest the possibility of building a fourth courtroom, which required further consideration. The two resolutions adopted by the Security Council this year -- 1597 and 1581 -- concerning ad litem judges was another important measure towards implementing the strategy.
Noting that the President of the Rwanda Tribunal had estimated that the court could complete trials and judgements involving 65 to 70 individuals by 2008, he said that the completion strategy of that Tribunal was linked to that of the Yugoslavia Tribunal. Indeed, the increasing workload of the Appeals Chamber, which was common to both Tribunals, made it difficult to estimate when all the appeals would be completed. The suggestion of President Møse that, at some stage, there would be a need to increase the number of judges at the Appeals Chamber was most interesting. Likewise, he agreed that the Tribunals could achieve their tasks only if the necessary resources were made available. Over the years, the Tribunals had played a crucial role in advancing the cause of justice and the rule of law. They had now entered their most difficult and critical phase. Successful implementation of their completion strategies depended on several factors, among them, the cooperation of the States concerned, as well as the support of the international community and, most specifically, of the Security Council.
BRIGITTE COLLET (France) said that since the last meeting in June, the Council had received some good news, namely the arrest of one of four fugitives. The arrest of Mr. Gotovina was good news for the European continent, international justice and justice itself. The arrest was the result of efforts of the Prosecutor, Croatia and Spain. The French Foreign Minister had recently recalled in Belgrade that cooperation by Serbia and Montenegro with the Yugoslav Tribunal would only be complete when Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic were in The Hague. France also expected full cooperation from all States to arrest Mr. Kabuga and others indicted by the Rwanda Tribunal who were still at large. The completion strategies had two major objectives: to ensure that justice be done for the victims and that the spirit of vengeance give way to one of reconciliation.
She appreciated the considerable efforts of both Tribunals to make the most effective use of their resources, while seeing to it that trials involved all necessary safeguards. She hoped the same safeguards would be guaranteed in those cases transferred to national jurisdictions by the Yugoslav Tribunal. She asked the Prosecutor of the Rwanda Tribunal about the number of cases that might be transferred to domestic courts. Witness protection must remain a constant concern for both Tribunals, she noted. France would continue to seek new ways to ensure compliance with the completion strategies. Nevertheless, it was necessary to ensure stability in the functioning of the Tribunals and for the Council to avoid intervening repeatedly in organizational matters. For France, the mission of the Tribunals would not be concluded so long as the perpetrators were not tried, particularly Karadzic, Mladic and Kabuga. The States concerned must be aware that the Council would not reduce its demands in that regard.
LARBI EL HADJ ALI (Algeria) reiterated his commitment to accomplishing the mission entrusted to the two Tribunals and to achieving the objectives of the completion strategy. He welcomed the tireless work done by various bodies associated with the Yugoslavia Tribunal, as well as the efforts carried out in accordance with regular procedures to improve pre-trial methods and to speed up proceedings in trial and pre-trial chambers. Referring cases of intermediate and lower-ranking accused to domestic courts would reduce the pressure on the Tribunal and the length of time needed to complete its mandate. Its completion, however, was still a subject of concern, since it had become increasingly difficult to foresee a time frame for accomplishing the Tribunal's mandate. In that regard, the united efforts of the international community, such as those which led to the recent arrest in Spain, remained an important element in overcoming the difficulties hampering the activities of that international court to apprehend and try all those accused and still at large.
He said that the updated completion strategy for the Rwanda Tribunal had reaffirmed respect for the time frames established by the Council in its recent resolutions. The deadlines were possible, but subject to conditions not solely in the Tribunal's control. Among the conditions required was the full and complete cooperation of the States concerned. Providing appropriate financing was another. Constraints associated with the level of competence of some national courts might also result in delaying the work of the Tribunals. If the Yugoslavia Tribunal were given a fourth courtroom and if the freeze on recruitment was lifted, that might improve the Tribunal's functioning. It was still obvious, however, that an increased caseload would further pressure the Court and move back the calendar for its completion. Clearly, challenges still remained. He called on the international community to provide the Tribunals with the necessary financial support and strengthened capacity for trying their cases.
CAROLYN WILLSON (United States) said her country was strongly committed to supporting the two Tribunals, and appreciated the work of their Presidents, Prosecutors and Registrars to bring to justice those responsible for serious violations of international law. The United States remained committed to providing significant financial and political support to the Yugoslav Tribunal. She called on all States to fulfil their legal obligations and to cooperate fully with the Tribunal, which included not only providing access to documents and witnesses, but also apprehending and transferring indictees. She welcomed the arrest and transfer of Mr. Gotovina to the Tribunal, and congratulated the Croatian and Spanish authorities for the efforts that led to his arrest. Croatia had significantly strengthened its candidacy for full Euro-Atlantic ties, as United States Secretary of State Rice had recently stated.
The United States and others had made clear that upholding obligations to the Yugoslav Tribunal was a prerequisite for inclusion in the Euro-Atlantic community, she noted. Her country was pleased with the call by Bosnian Serb leaders for the arrest of Mladic and Karadzic, and for pledging that full compliance with the Tribunal would be their top priority. However, it was disappointed that, despite statement of intent from Serbia and Montenegro, progress not been made on the apprehension of Mladic. She called on the Serbian Prime Minister to intensify efforts to apprehend Mladic, Karadzic and other indictees, for whom the doors of the Tribunal would always remain open. With the arrest of Gotovina, the international community must exercise extra scrutiny of Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnian Serb authorities. The international community could help the completion strategy succeed by providing strong support for capacity-building for trials in domestic courts.
She commended the increased pace of trials at the Rwanda Tribunal. Work must continue to ensure the achievement of the completion strategy by 2010. For that to occur, the international community must provide strong support for the Tribunal's efforts to create capacity for trials at the domestic level. She urged all States, particularly the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo and Kenya to fulfil their obligations to apprehend and transfer Mr. Kabuga and others in their territory to the Tribunal. Those fugitives continued to foment conflict in the Great Lakes region.
GUAN JIAN (China) said he was satisfied with the work being done by the two Tribunals, which had taken the necessary measures to implement the completion strategy, including measures to expedite the trials and to refer cases involving lower- and middle-ranked accused to competent national jurisdictions. He also noted that the two Tribunals would continue to contemplate new plans to improve their work efficiently. China supported the two Courts in all their efforts to implement the completion strategy. Not long ago, the transfer of an indictee to the Yugoslavia Tribunal further convinced him that, through the efforts of the various parties, the Tribunals would meet the objectives expected by the international community. At present, there were still three years to go before the deadlines came up to complete the first-instance trials, leading to conclusion of the completion strategies. Much could be done in that time, and he hoped full use would be made of the available resources to complete the trials smoothly.
In his national capacity, HUW LLEWELLYN (United Kingdom) thanked the Presidents and Prosecutors for their presentations. The recent arrest in Spain had been excellent news, and he welcomed the cooperation of the Croatian and Spanish authorities in transferring the accused to The Hague. That arrest had clearly illustrated that a policy of robust conditionality worked, and that the full engagement of national authorities in the western Balkans was critical. Full cooperation remained an ongoing aspect for all in the region, and he called on them to follow Croatia's example and fulfil their responsibilities to the international community, in accordance with Council resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004). In that respect, the swift arrest and transfer to The Hague of all outstanding fugitive indictees was absolutely key.
Turning to the functioning of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, he said he had been pleased to learn of its increased productivity. That had included the number of cases transferred, as well as the numerous capacity-building initiatives put in place to strengthen the local judiciaries of the former Yugoslav countries. Also welcome had been the efforts by all to implement new and practical legal measures to expedite the proceedings. However, he had real concerns about the 2008 deadline, given the likely number of appeals.
Concerning the Rwanda Tribunal, he welcomed the news confirmed this morning that the Court was still on course to complete all trials by the end of 2008. That had underlined to the international community that the Tribunal was making good progress, that it was operating at full trial capacity, and that was also a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff. The completion strategy should be at the heart of the Tribunal's overall management, which, if handled well, would give confidence to the donors.
He said that the workload of the Appeals Chambers would dramatically increase in the near future, significantly impacting on the Tribunal's closing date. He encouraged the Court to take steps now to plan for that and other issues they might face in the near future. Cooperation by Member States in apprehending the indictees at large would contribute to supporting the Tribunal in meeting their obligations. He recognized the efforts made to transfer cases to domestic jurisdictions, as well as the steps taken in the area of national capacity-building. The latter process was vital to ensuring compliance with fair trial standards.
STANISLAS KAMANZI (Rwanda) noted that the Rwanda Tribunal expected to have completed trials involving 65 to 70 persons by 2008, which represented roughly a quarter of the figure of original targets set by the Office of the Prosecutor. While the number of persons targeted for prosecution had gone down, serious accusations remained against many of the suspects who were no longer being considered targets for prosecution. One such suspect was Callixte Mbarushimana, who should face justice, instead of being considered for compensation for lost income from United Nations employment.
Among those indicted by the Prosecutor, 19 remained at large and were being providing with a haven from international justice by Member States, he said. The Prosecutor should perhaps consider providing the Council with a list of indictees still at large, together with the countries in which they currently resided. The concern of the Government and people of Rwanda, particularly the genocide survivors, was that the perpetrators of the genocide should not be allowed to evade justice. The Tribunal's completion strategy should not be seen as an exit strategy for the obligations of the international community to bring all the suspects of the crime of genocide to trial at the Tribunal or in Rwanda. Measures must be put in place to ensure that all accused were brought to justice, even after the Tribunal's mandate had expired.
While noting the achievements of the Tribunal, he said that much work remained to be done with respect to its impact on the justice and reconciliation process in Rwanda. That might be due to the geographical distance between Arusha and Rwanda, coupled with the failure to establish an effective and proactive outreach programme. It might also be due to the witness protection problems and management and ethical challenges that had plagued the Tribunal, particularly in its earlier life. The legacy of the Tribunal with respect to strengthening the Rwandan judiciary also required attention.
Since the establishment of the Tribunal, his Government had strongly advocated for the transfer of some cases for trial in Rwanda, he said. It was a widely accepted principle that trials should always take place as close as possible to where the crimes were committed. His Government welcomed the transfer of 45 investigation files from the Tribunal to Rwanda. He encouraged the Tribunal to continue to identify cases for transfer.
With respect to Rwanda's capacity to handle such cases, he said that since 1998 a moratorium had been in force on the death penalty and that, in any case, the Government was willing to enter into an agreement with the Tribunal not to exercise the death penalty in any of the transferred cases. As for the capacity of the Rwandan judicial system to handle such cases, given the large caseload from thousands of local cases, he stated the following. First, the strain of cases on the ordinary courts was eased with the commencement of Gacaca community trials earlier in the year. That freed up the ordinary courts, which would now be able to handle the cases transferred by the Tribunal and a handful of cases that might be referred back to it by the Gacaca courts. Second, since 1994, the Rwandan Government had embarked on an intensive programme to build a strong and respected judiciary.
For those reasons, he believed that his Government had the capacity to handle all the cases transferred from the Tribunal, and hoped that the Office of the Prosecutor would, at the appropriate time, decide to transfer cases to Rwanda. It was also important that sentences be served inside Rwanda, which would advance the cause of justice, combat impunity and promote national reconciliation. In that context, he recalled that a new detention facility which met United Nations standards was completed more than a year and a half ago.
As the security of witnesses who testified before the Tribunal continued to be an issue of concern to his Government, he commended the Prosecutor's decision to assign a special consul to investigate such matters. He invited the Tribunal to develop a joint mechanism with the Government to ensure witness security, including by signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation with the Government in all aspects of witness protection. He also urged Member States to make their financial contributions to the Tribunal on time, in full and without conditions. Late or non-payment of contributions negatively impacted on the completion strategy.
MILOS PRICA (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said it was of paramount importance that all indictees were brought to justice, in order for the Yugoslavia Tribunal to successfully complete its work. Moreover, only then would a genuine reconciliation of the western Balkans be possible, thus opening the way to lasting stability and prosperity of the whole region within the European mainstream. Positive steps had been taken to improve cooperation with the Tribunal, and the number of extraditions of persons accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity had significantly increased. Cooperation of the entities with the Tribunal had also significantly improved, particularly by the authorities of the Republika Srpska. Access to all requested documentation had been provided and the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina had started its work.
He reiterated his country's strong commitment that all those indicted for war crimes perpetrated on its territory, as well as on the rest of the territory of the former Yugoslavia, must be brought to justice. Since the start of the Tribunal's work in 1993, it had charged 161 persons for war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. To date, proceedings against 88 persons had been completed, and six indicted persons, all of them at large, were still to be tried before the Court closed. There had been a dramatic increase in the number of indicted persons transferred to the Tribunal -- 24 since the end of last year. The War Crimes Chamber and the Special Department of the Prosecutor's Office were now in a position to accept cases referred by the Tribunal. Surely, the War Crimes Chamber would soon earn the undivided respect of all, as it conducted its proceedings with diligence and fairness in accordance with the best European practice.
He said that, 10 years after the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, relations between the two neighbouring States had improved dramatically, although recent history had put them "between a rock and a hard place", he said. He would certainly feel much more comfortable once the countries entered the Partnership for Peace, and his country would definitely be at ease once it became a full member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The only remaining condition was the apprehension of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, the two most notorious and highest-ranked indictees. Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, did not hold the key for fulfilment of that condition, he added.
MIRJANA MLADINEO (Croatia) said that Croatia had worked closely with the Yugoslav Tribunal. It had responded in due time and comprehensively to its requests of documents and witnesses. Cooperation between the law and justice institutions in Croatia and the Tribunal had been good. In order to foster cross-border cooperation in trials of war crimes, Croatia had signed an agreement earlier this year with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro on cooperation in war crimes proceedings and for combating organized crime.
The Council had been discussing the Tribunal's completion strategy since August 2003, she said. Part of that Strategy was the work it was undertaking with the national courts of the countries concerned. Work had been done to increase the capacity of judges and lawyers in Croatia in readiness for the transfer of cases for prosecution in the national jurisdiction. One such case, involving two accused, had recently been referred to the Croatian jurisdiction. She noted that the Tribunal's completion strategy involved a three-step process: the completion of investigations; trials; and appeals within time lines confirmed by the Council. The first of the benchmarks -- the completion of investigations -- was passed at the end of 2004. She trusted that recent events had brought the conclusion of the Tribunal's work more closely into view.
NEBOJŠA KALUDJEROVIĆ (Serbia and Montenegro) reiterated the readiness and full political will of the highest authorities in Serbia and Montenegro to do all in their power to transfer the remaining indictees to the custody of The Hague Tribunal. The main obstacle was that those persons were not within the reach of its law enforcement authorities. It was of utmost importance to expand and step up international cooperation in those cases, especially since some indictees were located in States far away from Serbia and Montenegro. For its part, Serbia and Montenegro would undertake additional measures to fully bring its cooperation with the Tribunal to a successful end. Serbia and Montenegro was also absolutely resolved to fully cooperate with the Tribunal in the field of granting access to documents and archives. It had no interest in hiding anything from the tragic history surrounding the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia and the ensuing civil wars. Its peoples suffered enormously in those wars, and it was in the national interest to bring to justice those responsible. Consequently, the officials from the Prosecutor's Office would be given access to the requested documents needed for the ongoing proceedings. It would also create the necessary technical conditions for archival access.
He said that Serbia and Montenegro was also fully committed to cooperating with the Tribunal and the Prosecutor's Office in promoting national capacity to take over criminal prosecution and proceedings, which did not fall within the category of highest-ranking officials. In order to contribute to the Tribunal's completion strategy, Serbia and Montenegro stood ready to enable their domestic courts to take over the relevant cases. Regarding normative improvements to legislation to enable successful trials in transferred cases, he informed the Council that a new criminal code had been adopted by the National Assembly of Serbia. Of particular importance was that the law made it possible for the war crimes indictees to be properly tried before domestic courts. In order to administer international justice and achieve reconciliation among the peoples and States in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, it was best that nationals were tried by domestic courts. The Republic of Serbia had amended its legislation to provide witness protection, to be provided by a special police unit designed to protect in such complex cases as those concerning war crimes. The 2006 budget had allocated resources for such protection programmes and for the special police unit. Serbia and Montenegro would do all within its powers to bring its cooperation with the Tribunal to a full and efficient closure, he concluded.
Mr. MØSE thanked all Council members for their support for the work being done in Arusha, and for their comments, particularly those regarding the Appeals Chamber. As for the transfer of cases, he said it was good to hear support for the principle of transferring low- and middle-level suspects. He hoped pressure would be exercised in apprehending the fugitives at large.
Mr. POCAR also thanked speakers for their support for the Tribunal's work and for their valuable comments, which would be taken into account by the judges in their future work. In particular, he noted the encouragement to improve the activities with regard to strengthening local capacities. The Tribunal would continue work in that regard, as that was not only essential for compliance with the completion strategy, but essential for the process of reconciliation. When the Tribunal closed, local judiciary must have the capacity to apply the rule of law.
Mr. JALLOW, responding to the query by France on the number of files earmarked for transfer to national jurisdiction, said that that number stood at 45, of which 30 had already been handed over to Rwanda. The remaining 15 included five already in custody in Arusha and eight that remained at large.
Council President ADAM THOMSON (United Kingdom) said the transfer of Mr. Gotovina was a significant step, but further efforts were needed to apprehend and transfer the remaining indictees. The transfer of cases to national jurisdiction had been mentioned by many speakers and was an essential component in complying with the completion strategies. Mr. Pocar had mentioned the consolidation of cases before the Yugoslav Tribunal and the need to ensure fair procedures. That was an issue that could be taken up by the Council's working group on tribunals. If Mr. Pocar could return in January 2006, the United Kingdom would be happy to explore holding such a meeting on that.
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