8 June 2006
Security Council Hears Briefings on Work of International Tribunals for Rwanda, Former Yugoslavia
Speeding Up Proceedings, Arresting Indicted Fugitives, Referring Cases to Local Jurisdiction among Top Priorities Facing Courts
NEW YORK, 7 June (UN Headquarters) -- Speeding up the proceedings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was a top priority, and another was obtaining the arrest and transfer of those indicted fugitives remaining at large, Carla Del Ponte, the Tribunal's Prosecutor, said today in a briefing to the Security Council.
She said that impunity for Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, the two most serious architects of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, who had both been accused of genocide, would represent a terrible blow not only to the Tribunal's success or failure, but also to the future of international justice as a whole. It was inconceivable that the Yugoslav Tribunal would close its doors, while the pair remained at large.
According to information available to her, Mladić and four other fugitives were in Serbia, she said. The fact that he had been an active officer in the Yugoslav Army until May 2002, a year and a half after the fall of Slobodan Milošević, and seven years after his indictment by the Tribunal, added to Belgrade's responsibility for its failure to deliver him. Furthermore, established leads connected that country to Karadžić, whose present location was unknown. The Serbian authorities had repeatedly promised over the last 12 months that Mladić would be delivered soon, and they had promised regularly that the circle was closing around him. Serbia must do much more to arrest and transfer Mladić, while the arrest of Karadžić was the shared responsibility of Serbia, the Republika Srpska, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union Force in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR).
Hassan Bubacar Jallow, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, drew attention to the referral of cases to national jurisdictions, which continued to be a slow and challenging process. There was a need for more concrete assurances and indications of possible support for countries willing to accept referrals, including Rwanda, in order to encourage a more positive response to the Tribunal's requests for acceptance of cases. Support should be provided to national jurisdictions that were willing, but unable, due to resource constraints, to receive and prosecute referred indictees.
While some countries were willing in principle to accept such cases, inadequate judicial capacity continued to be the main obstacle to their effective collaboration, he noted. Rwanda continued to be the major focus for referral of cases of indictees for trial. He had received assurances from Rwanda that, this year, it intended to take the necessary measures for eligibility to receive referral cases, which could significantly advance the transfer strategy.
Erik Møse, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, stressed its need for cooperation from Member States, which was vital for the arrest and transfer of those accused, as well as other persons suspected of having participated during the genocide in 1994. The accused must be brought to justice, either at the international or national level, in order to determine their guilt or innocence. Impunity for alleged perpetrators was no viable option. To ensure the successful implementation of the Tribunal's completion strategy, continuity and maximum efficiency were essential, and it was preferable in that regard to extend the judges' mandate for about 19 months instead of electing new ones next year.
Fausto Pocar, President of the Yugoslav Tribunal, confirmed with respect to the completion strategy, that trials would run into 2009 and reiterated that the estimate of all trials finishing by that date might hold, provided that the multi-accused trials ran smoothly; the cases referred to the former Yugoslavia were not deferred back to the Tribunal; the new amendment to rule 73bis was effectively implemented such that indictments were more focused; and the six remaining high-level fugitives were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal very soon.
Zoran Loncar, Serbia's Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government, said his Government considered tracking down the remaining indictees of crucial importance, as was transferring them for trial in national jurisdictions. Trials in domestic courts could contribute to the realization of the high goals for which the Council had established the Tribunal. Tried before a domestic court, an indicted person was exposed to a strict moral authority, due to the fact that he stood responsible before his fellow nationals and the court could not be labelled as biased. In the same vein, the domestic court could truly contribute to the realization of mutual reconciliation.
Rwanda's representative said that the Tribunal's completion strategy should not be seen as an exit strategy for the obligations of the international community to bring all the genocide suspects to trial, either at the Tribunal in Arusha or in Rwanda. With only two and a half years remaining for the Tribunal to conclude its work in accordance with the completion strategy, it was clear that not much time was left, and there was still plenty of work to be done.
Other speakers today included the representatives of Japan, United Republic of Tanzania, Argentina, Qatar, China, Congo, United States, Ghana, Peru, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, France, Greece, Slovakia and Denmark.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hear briefings by the respective Presidents and Prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
FAUSTO POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, said he was presenting the fifth report of the President, and it explained the concrete measures taken by the Tribunal and the challenges it had faced from September 2005 to May 2006. The Trial Chambers had continued to function at maximum capacity. Following the termination of the Milošević trial, it had reassigned the judges from that trial. The Appeals Chamber had disposed of 127 appeals, both from the Yugoslav Tribunal and the Rwanda Tribunal, including two final judgements. Other international criminal tribunals were also benefiting from the experience.
Updating the Council on developments since the death of Milošević, he said Dutch authorities had finalized their inquiry into his death, confirming he had died of natural causes, and had ruled out foul play, including poisoning. While a team of Swedish experts were satisfied with detention facilities, the Yugoslav Tribunal had established a working group to follow up on its recommendations. On 30 May, Judge Kevin Parker had submitted his report on the death of Milošević, which concluded that there had been proper provision of medical care. His serious health problems had been complicated by his insistence on representing himself, against repeated medical advice. In an effort to afford Milošević the right to self-representation, while not jeopardizing his health, the Trial Chamber had progressively reduced his trial schedule and often adjourned, pursuant to medical advice.
He said Milošević's health had also been complicated by his refusal to comply with the treatment prescribed by his doctors and that, on occasion, he had refused to be tested or hospitalized. Judge Parker had further concluded that non-prescription medications had been smuggled into the detention facilities, which included a private room and other arrangements that had led to security breaches and misuse of privileges. The Parker report called for close attention to be paid to that case, specifically special training on inspection of materials brought into the facilities by privileged visitors. With regard to Milan Babić, the Dutch Authorities had confirmed that he had committed suicide and that he had not suffered foul play. The Dutch report was still being translated into English.
With respect to the completion strategy, he said a policy had been put in place, whereby all pretrial cases were transferred to the Trial Chamber that would hear the trial at the earliest possible stage. In that way, the pretrial judges and staff already familiar with a particular case would also serve on the trial and thus facilitate more efficient proceedings. In addition, judges had been increasingly aware that the length of trials extended with the complexity and breadth of the indictments, leading to a lengthy presentation of cases. Under a new amendment, Trial Chambers now had the explicit ability, at the pretrial stage, to invite the prosecution to select the counts on which the trial should proceed. At the same time, the amendment respected the prosecutorial independence in bringing indictments before the Tribunal and sought the prosecution's cooperation in shortening the trials, through focused indictments.
He said the pretrial judges had taken substantial steps to more proactively manage pretrial proceedings, so that they could focus on the trial proceedings, ensure trial-readiness and shorten the trials. Pretrial judges were establishing work plans of the parties' obligations at trial, with strict timetables for presenting their cases and ensuring strict implementation of such work-plans; requiring the prosecution to specify their trial strategy, submit a focused pretrial brief and produce the final statements of all their witnesses to be called; and obliging the defence to make a timely submission of a focused pretrial brief and disclosure of expert testimony to identify points of agreement and disagreement between parties; and making greater use of the power to sanction a party for failure to comply with disclosure obligations.
Regarding the referral of intermediate and lower ranking persons accused of crimes from the Tribunal to competent national jurisdictions, he said that, to date, six accused persons had been referred to the Special War Crimes Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina and two to Croatia for trial before their domestic courts. If all pending motions were successfully referred, 10 cases, involving 16 accused, would have been removed from the Tribunal's docket. However, no other cases were earmarked for referral, as they did not involve intermediate or lower level persons. For the referrals to the Bosnia and Herzegovina State Court to be successful, it was imperative that sufficient resources, including detention facilities meeting international standards, be made available to the Court. If the Court did not receive the support needed to conduct trials, the international community faced the possibility that referred cases might have to be deferred back to the Tribunal.
On cooperation of States with the Yugoslav Tribunal, he emphasized that the Tribunal's success in completing its mandate within the completion strategy dates hinged upon such cooperation. Primarily, the assistance of States, specifically those in the region, was needed for bringing the six remaining high-level persons accused, particularly Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, to the Tribunal's jurisdiction without delay. Milan Lukić had been transferred last February, but Dragan Zelenovic had not been transferred so far.
Returning to the completion strategy, he confirmed that trials would indeed run into 2009, and reiterated that the estimate of all trials finishing by that date might hold, provided that the multi-accused trials ran smoothly; the cases referred to the former Yugoslavia were not deferred back to the Tribunal; the new amendment to rule 73bis was effectively implemented such that indictments were more focused; and the six remaining high-level fugitives were transferred to the jurisdiction of the Tribunal very soon.
ERIK MØSE, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said that when he had appeared before the Council in December 2005, 52 persons had had their cases completed or they were ongoing. That number had now increased to 55, one more than indicated in the report submitted last week. He conveyed to the Council the high level of productivity at the Tribunal over the last six months, with the Tribunal conducting 11 trials involving 27 accused and rendering two judgments. All four courtrooms were in full use. The Tribunal remained on course to complete the trials of 65 to 70 persons by the end of 2008, as indicated in its completion strategy.
Noting that there were 18 indictees at large, he stressed that cooperation from Member States was vital for the arrests and transfer of those accused, as well as other persons suspected of having participated during the events in 1994. It could not be overemphasized that the accused must be brought to justice, either at the international or national level, in order to determine their guilt or innocence. Impunity for alleged perpetrators was no viable option.
At the December 2005 meeting, he had mentioned the need for cooperation from Member States to accommodate persons who had been acquitted by the Tribunal, he said. Two persons accused in the so-called Cyangugu trial had been acquitted in February 2004. Four months ago, in February 2006, their acquittals had been confirmed by the Appeals Chamber. They were still in a safe house in Arusha, in spite of numerous attempts by the Tribunal to relocate them to possible host countries. That was a serious problem. The Tribunal depended on the assistance of Member States.
To ensure a successful implementation of the Tribunal's completion strategy, continuity and maximum efficiency were essential, he said, drawing attention to his request for an extension of the mandate of the 11 permanent judges, instead of proceeding to elections. In May 2007, which, according to the Statute, was the commencement of the next four-year period of the judges, virtually all of them would be occupied in trials. Some would be completing the remaining multi-accused cases, whereas others would be conducting the new single-accused trials, which would commence from the second half of 2006. If some of them were not re-elected, the result could be serious disruption in the work of the Tribunal. In the worst case scenario, trials might have to start de novo with new judges. It was preferable to extend the mandate of the judges for about 19 months, instead of electing them for four years.
He emphasized that, in parallel with core activities, there had been constant endeavours, by all three branches of the Tribunal, to improve the working methods in other ways, which might be less visible to observers of the Tribunal. As those measures had contributed significantly to the Tribunal's efficiency, the seventh version of the completion strategy contained new annexes. Annex VI described some of the initiatives taken by the Office of the Prosecutor to facilitate the trial of cases. Annex VII listed measures adopted by the Registry to support the judicial process. He described two examples from that list, concerning interpretation and transcription.
He also drew the Council's attention to a new annex V, which gave an overview of the Tribunal's outreach and capacity-building programmes in Rwanda. A flagship of the outreach programme was the Information Centre in Kigali, which received a large number of visitors, including lawyers, students, journalists, civil servants and ordinary Rwandans from all walks of life. The Tribunal's capacity-building programme included the training of jurists, advocates and human rights practitioners. The Tribunal also conducted regular workshops in the different provinces of Rwanda, to inform the Rwandan people of the work of the Tribunal. Rwanda had continued to cooperate with the Tribunal, by facilitating a steady flow of witnesses from Kigali to Arusha, and by providing relevant documents to the court proceedings. That was appreciated by the Tribunal. It was important to avoid delays in the processing of documents. Flexibility by the authorities would contribute to that aim.
CARLA DEL PONTE, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, listed a number of steps taken to increase efficiency, while maintaining the highest standards, saying she proposed to join cases with a similar crime base and had filed four motions to that purpose, three of which had been accepted by the Chambers. One trial with six accused had already begun and later this year a consolidated trial with nine persons charged with crimes committed in Srebrenica would start, as would another one with nine accused. Another trial involved six leading political and military figures indicted for crimes committed by Serbian forces in Kosovo.
A second initiative had been to propose the transfer of cases involving mid- and lower-level perpetrators, she said. That undertaking had been met with strong opposition from some "victims" groups. However, local judiciaries appeared capable of trying such cases and, beginning in September 2004, 13 motions had been filed requesting the transfer of cases to domestic jurisdictions of the former Yugoslavia. No other case at the Tribunal could be transferred to the region, as they all concerned the most senior leaders, responsible for the most serious crimes.
She said she had been working with the judges in taking all possible measures to ensure that the Tribunal's own process was as efficient as possible, and had put forward a package of reforms that, if implemented, would significantly accelerate the pretrial and trial proceedings. Given the seriousness of the cases at the Tribunal, it was essential to urgently improve pretrial management, so that issues were narrowed down before the trial started and that it could focus on truly contested matters.
Regarding the efficient use of time, she said she was continuously reviewing cases and would not hesitate to cut counts when there were clear judicial reasons for it. It was, however, impossible to arbitrarily cut and slice cases that were complex by their very nature. Which counts should be eliminated from the Srebrenica case, the counts referring to the killings of over 7,000 men and boys, or those relating to the forcible transfer of 25,000 women, children and elderly people? That would mean presenting only half the picture of the serious crimes that had taken place.
Speeding up the proceedings was a top priority, she said, adding that obtaining the arrest and transfer of the remaining indictees at large was another. It was inconceivable that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia close its doors with Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić still at large. Impunity for those two most serious architects of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both accused of genocide, would represent a terrible blow not only to the Tribunal's success or failure, but also to the future of international justice as a whole.
Serbia had the main responsibility to locate, arrest and transfer all six fugitives, she stressed, adding that, according to her information, Mladić and four other fugitives were in that country. Furthermore, there were established leads connecting Serbia to Karadžić, whose location was unknown. The fact that Mladić had been an active officer in the Yugoslav Army until May 2002, a year and a half after the fall of Milošević, and seven years after his indictment, added to Belgrade's responsibility for its failure to deliver him.
Noting that the Serbian authorities had repeatedly promised over the last 12 months that Mladić would be delivered soon, she said she had been told regularly by Serbian officials that the circle was closing around him. At the end of April, in view of Serbia's failure to achieve the promised result, a reassessment of the operation had revealed grave defects. During 2005, there had been no real attempt to locate and arrest Mladić. Time had been wasted in trying to encourage him to surrender voluntarily. Since the beginning of 2006, it seemed that more had been undertaken, particularly the targeting of his support network and the arrest of several supporters. Those actions had sometimes been spectacular, and had fed many news articles, but they had lacked the necessary discretion that would have allowed the acquisition of information leading to Mladić.
She said that the most blatant dysfunction was the total lack of cooperation between the military and civilian authorities. In Tribunal's cooperation with Belgrade there had not been the level of trust and transparency that had been achieved with other countries. Cooperation with Serbia remained very difficult and frustrating, and there was serious political and administrative resistance within the system. Strong political will was needed to overcome those obstacles, and, on the basis of available facts, Serbia could not be said to convincingly be ready to arrest Mladić. For a number of reasons, the authorities might still prefer to force him to surrender voluntarily.
The Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina must also substantially increase its efforts to locate and arrest fugitives, she said. Whereas it was unclear whether Karadžić still resided in, or travelled through, the Republika Srpska, it was certain that part of his network and family remained there. In the reporting period, that entity had decreased its cooperation with the Prosecutor's Office for political reasons and the reshuffling of police personnel. Now that a new team was in place, the search for Karadžić must intensify rapidly. However, the Prosecutor's Office had maintained a positive working relationship with Montenegro, where part of Karadžić family lived, and where he could count on numerous supporters.
In conclusion, she said that Serbia must do much more to arrest and transfer Mladić and that the arrest of Karadžić was the shared responsibility of Serbia, the Republika Srpska, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union Force (EUFOR). It was pathetic that nobody was searching actively for Karadžić, and the planned downsizing of EUFOR would further aggravate the situation. Since nobody else seemed to have the political will to locate and arrest them, the Office of the Prosecutor would have no choice but to seek from the Security Council the powers to arrest fugitives wherever they were.
HASSAN B. JALLOW, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said the Tribunal continued to face challenges in tracking and arresting the 18 indicted fugitives. In his last report, he had informed the Council that the intelligence available confirmed that indicted fugitive Félicien Kabuga had continued to reside in and carry on business in Kenya. His arrest and trial remained a top priority for the Tribunal. The Government of Kenya needed to be encouraged to fully cooperate with the Tribunal in that respect, and to make more intensive efforts to track, arrest and transfer Félicien Kabuga to the Tribunal for trial.
He said the tracking and apprehension of the other 17 fugitives continued to rank as a high priority. He emphasized the need for cooperation by Member States in ensuring the arrest of those fugitives and their eventual trial, either at the Tribunal or in countries willing to accept cases on referral from the Tribunal. Unfortunately, in the past six months, he had not registered any arrest or transfer of a fugitive to the Tribunal.
Referral of indictees continued to be a slow and challenging process, he said. The first motion for transfer of a case of an indictee to a national jurisdiction had been rejected by a Trial Chamber on 18 May 2006. The ruling significantly limited the range of countries available for referral and, in that respect, could impact negatively on the referral strategy. However a final decision was now pending in the joint Appeals Chamber of the Tribunal. The Security Council had called, in resolution 1503 (2003), on Member States to assist in developing the capacity of those States willing to accept such cases.
However, he continued, there was a need for more concrete assurances and indications of possible support for such countries, including Rwanda, in order to encourage a more positive response to the Tribunal's requests for acceptance of cases. Support should be provided to national jurisdictions that were willing but unable, due to resource constraints, to receive and prosecute referred indictees. While some countries were willing in principle to accept such cases, inadequate judicial capacity continued to be the main obstacle to their effective collaboration. Rwanda continued to be the major focus for referral of cases of indictees for trial. He had received assurances from Rwanda that, this year, it intended to take the necessary measures for eligibility to receive referral cases. The eligibility of Rwanda for receiving such cases could significantly advance the transfer strategy.
Meanwhile, he said, the Office of the Prosecutor had been making its own contribution to capacity-building in the Rwandan legal system in anticipation of that development. Among other things, there were currently seven Rwandan lawyers working in his Office, as well as Rwandan investigators and language assistants. Their experience would be useful to the Government of Rwanda generally, and particularly in the handling of referred cases.
In a welcome new development, many countries were now increasingly showing a commitment to prosecuting those accused of genocide residing in their territory who had not been indicted by the Tribunal. His Office had been collaborating with such countries to enable them to successfully prosecute such persons. The Tribunal's focus would continue to be the prosecution of the cases currently on trial, the preparation of the cases of the 15 remaining detainees and at most six of the 18 cases of those at large; the implementation of a more effective tracking and arrest strategy for fugitives; and the continuation of referral proceedings in respect of indictees to national jurisdictions for prosecution. He proposed to request the referral of the cases of some detainees as well as the cases of most of those who remained at large.
He remained confident that the Tribunal could conclude the cases of all those indictees currently in detention -- either on trial or awaiting trial - by the 2008 deadline of the completion strategy. In his last report, he had drawn attention to two challenges in that regard: the arrest of the fugitives and the referral of cases to national jurisdictions for trial. Those challenges remained. He proposed to prosecute at the Tribunal at most six of those persons, including Félicien Kabuga, and to transfer the remaining cases to national jurisdictions for prosecutions. Ideally, all those fugitives should first be arrested and transferred to the Tribunal and then proceed to be dealt with, either by trial at the Tribunal or by deferral.
In the event that the cases earmarked for referral -- currently numbering at least 17 and possibly rising to 20 -- could not for any reason be transferred to national jurisdictions, the burden of prosecuting those cases would fall back on the Tribunal. That would constitute a substantial increase in the Tribunal's workload and present a real danger to the completion strategy.
Meanwhile, he said, his Office had continued to develop and implement internal strategies to facilitate the speedy trials of cases, including the improvement of information management. It had also developed an intranet system, as well as Case Map -- litigation support software that allowed a trial team to gather all information relevant to a case in one place for easier analysis and sharing -- to facilitate the sharing of information within the trial teams and thus assist the pursuit of a more consistent prosecutorial strategy. While all the internal measures taken at his Office together with others instituted in the Registry and the Chambers would enhance greater efficiency, the two challenges of arrests and referrals of cases remained the most pressing issues for the Tribunal.
KENZO OSHIMA (Japan) reiterated that both the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals should be strongly encouraged to meet their completion strategies by exploring all necessary and appropriate measures. Japan expected that the large-scale, multi-accused trials recently introduced in the Yugoslav Tribunal would successfully accelerate the conduct of trials while meeting the requirements of due process. Japan supported the extension of the terms of office for the 11 permanent judges of the Rwanda Tribunal from the point of view of fulfilling its completion strategy. Thorough consideration should be given to achieving better coordination and scheduling between the two tribunals as soon as possible.
With regard to the enquiries into the deaths of Milan Babić and Slobodan Milošević, he encouraged the Yugoslav Tribunal to improve the transparency of the conditions of detention. He remained concerned that the arrest and transfer of the key remaining fugitives, especially Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, to the Yugoslav Tribunal, and Félicien Kabuga to the Rwanda Tribunal, had not yet been realized. While the Government of Serbia had begun the eradication of Mladić's assistance network, there was reportedly no current trace of his whereabouts. Japan strongly urged all relevant States, including Serbia, to make their utmost efforts in that regard.
He said that, while strongly committed to bringing about justice and ending impunity, Japan believed that achieving justice required not only the will of the international community, but also the resolution on the part of the States concerned. If both Tribunals had to wait for an essentially indefinite period for the transfer of the remaining fugitives and support to the tribunals was to be considered unlimited, it would be very difficult to justify that support through Member State assessed contributions. Japan reiterated that possible funding beyond the deadline set by the completion strategies should be met through voluntary contributions by States concerned and by States that were especially interested.
The time had come to shift the focus of activities to capacity-building and outreach at the regional and national levels, he said. Real justice and confidence in the reconciliation process must be achieved. To do so cooperation must be strengthened with the goal of establishing the rule of law and formulating a mechanism to ensure fair trials at the regional and national levels. From that point of view, Japan, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had been assisting the War Crimes Chamber in Bosnia and Herzegovina by training judicial staff members and providing it with needed equipment. The country had also bee considering extending further assistance to judicial institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
TUVAKO N. MANONGI (United Republic of Tanzania) noted the progress that both Tribunals had made as they worked to execute their respective completion strategies and the challenges that continued to confront them. One such challenge for the Rwanda Tribunal was the disappointing recognition that 18 indictees remained at large, which was a statement about the lack of cooperation by States. Also, it was doubtful whether appeals from the Tribunal could be accommodated by the Appeals Chamber by the projected date of 2010. Obviously, as the work load of the Trial Chambers of the two Tribunals decreased, it was, in turn, shifted to the Appeals Chamber. At some point, the Council may have to address the question of increasing judges of the Appeals Chamber to facilitate the overall completion strategy.
He commended the Rwanda Tribunal for adopting measures that had made it possible to speed up trials; the solution attained for the problem of obtaining witnesses from Rwanda; and the Trial Chamber provisions allowing for two defence counsels where, in the absence of one, the other would be available to continue representing the defendant. Transfer of cases to national jurisdictions was an important factor in the completion strategy and the United Republic of Tanzania welcomed the fact that, of the 15 detainees awaiting trial at Arusha, the Prosecutor intended to transfer five of them to national jurisdictions and, in addition, was considering the transfer of more than 40 case files, including 12 indictees who were yet to be apprehended.
He was concerned, however, by a report that the Prosecutor may face problems in undertaking the transfer exercise, he said. Some of the setbacks included national laws that did not confer jurisdiction to prosecute, the inability of some countries to handle the cases and the lack of resources in support of such complex prosecutions. That was a challenge that countries need not face alone. Indeed, resolution 1503 (2003) called on the international community to assist national jurisdictions, as part of the Tribunals' completion strategy, by improving national capacities to prosecute cases transferred from the two Tribunals to national jurisdictions.
He said there was need to obtain specific proposals from the Secretariat and the Tribunals as to what concrete mechanisms could be put in place to implement that particular element of the resolution, as a way of truly supporting the completion strategy that the Council had established. In addition, since the bulk of those cases were destined for Rwanda, it was noted that the Prosecutor was still discussing the question of the death penalty with the Government of Rwanda. That was a sensitive issue that risked the imposition of double standards on similar crimes. However, another important issue was the availability of resources to enable Rwanda to handle the work load, overwhelmed as it was by the ongoing genocide trials. It was important to lay down a capacity-building strategy to enable the Rwandan judicial system to handle the cases referred to it.
ALBERTO D'ALOTTO (Argentina) said he was glad to see the work that had taken place to further the completion strategy in the Yugoslav Tribunal, and that multi-accused cases would commence in July and August. He reaffirmed the importance of the measures adopted and proposals to bring to completion the strategy elaborated by the working group for the speeding up of trials. The proposals on limiting the duration of the pleading of the defence and prosecutors should always be balanced against the requirements for due process. He pointed to his country's judicial cooperation with the Tribunal, as reinforced by the rapid extradition of an indictee to the Tribunal this year. The arrest and transfer of Mladić and Karadžić would promote justice, peace and reconciliation in the region.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, he supported the proposal to transfer some of the 15 detainees to national jurisdictions. He appealed for great efforts by the Prosecutor to apprehend those still at large. He was convinced of the importance of carrying out the completion strategy by 2010.
Mr. AL-QAHTANI (Qatar) said that the implementation of the completion strategy had been going well, and many measures had been taken, including those concerning the transfer of low- and medium-level defendants to national jurisdictions in order to make further use of ad litem judges. Qatar stressed the importance of the recommendations made by the working group in order to expedite the completion strategy, including those concerning the improvement of pretrial procedures. In addition, the inquiries by the Yugoslav Tribunal and the Dutch authorities had led to the conclusion that Slobodan Milošević had died of national causes, thus, eliminating all suspicions to the contrary mentioned in the media.
He said that the non-extradition of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić would gravely undermine the work of the Tribunals, and Qatar urged Serbia to adhere to the relevant resolutions concerning the arrest and extradition of those two indictees, as well as other accused, who should be sent before the Yugoslav and Rwanda Tribunals. Both Tribunals should continue to deploy their utmost efforts and efficiencies.
Urging that such Tribunals continue to make efforts in the development and application of laws, he asked whether further efforts had been made regarding the possible trial of Charles Taylor before the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said he appreciated the recommendations tabled by the Yugoslav Tribunal's working group on speeding up of trials, and believed it was important to improve the efficiency of proceedings and embark on a trial process closely managed by the Tribunal's judges. He also noticed that the Yugoslav Tribunal was making efforts to transfer cases to competent national jurisdictions.
He said he also appreciated the stable status of work of the Rwanda Tribunal and the efforts taken to implement the completion strategy. He was satisfied with the Tribunal's efforts to transfer cases to national jurisdictions, and was very interested in its outreach programmes. The Council had contributed to the attainment of the completion strategy, particularly by adopting resolutions in support of the work of the Tribunal. To ensure the successful conclusion of the work of Tribunals, it was worth considering, where appropriate, extending the mandates of judges to complete the completion strategies, and focus on improving efficiency. He encouraged them to work on referring cases to national jurisdictions, and appealed for assistance to countries to facilitate that.
PASCAL GAYAMA (Congo) said that the assessment reports provided the opportunity to evaluate the fight against impunity, and the Congo was particularly pleased with the progress made since the last report regarding the completion strategy. In general terms, the report allowed an appreciation of the efforts made by the judges to carry out their work while ensuring human rights.
He said the report also highlighted the paramount role of regional and international cooperation in implementing the completion strategy. It had further improved and made it possible to transfer a number of at-large indictees, but it was still insufficient and the prosecutors had been clear on that. The arrest of fugitives was important for ensuring reconciliation and for the administration of justice. The Council must be more resolute in calling for cooperation from States concerned in transferring those fugitives within their territories.
Just as important as transferring low- and medium-level defendants to national jurisdictions was ensuring the strengthening of national capacities and managing the timing of those cases, which was crucial, he said. There was also a need to ensure the availability of financial resources from the international community without overlooking uncertainties regarding the lack of cooperation by some States.
He asked for additional information on the way in which the Tribunals organized cooperation with States, and about the relocation of individuals acquitted by the Rwanda Tribunal. Was Rwanda, in any way, impeding their return or were third countries failing to cooperate in terms of providing refuge for those who had participated in completed trials?
CAROLYN WILLSON (United States), while expressing regret over the death of Slobodan Milošević, said, however, that the accumulation of testimony and evidence during his trial had helped to ensure accountability for the atrocities committed in the Balkans and reconciliation for those who had suffered as a result of such crimes. The focus of the Tribunal and the international community should now be on the road ahead. Milošević's death made more urgent the successful completion of trials already in progress and the apprehension and transfer of those still at large. In that regard, the United States appreciated the work of the President and Prosecutor to increase efficiency and meet the completion strategy targets of completing trials by 2008 and all trials by 2010. However, the success of the completion strategy did not depend solely on the Tribunal. The international community could help by supporting the Yugoslav Tribunal's efforts to help create the capacity for domestic trials of low- and medium-level cases.
While noting the significant work being done in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Zagreb in that regard, she urged other States to contribute to domestic war crimes prosecutions, either through direct financial assistance or in-kind contributions. Her Government called on all States to fulfil their legal obligations to cooperate fully with the Tribunal, including through access to relevant and necessary information, and also the apprehension of all fugitive indictees within their territory and their transfer to The Hague without further delay. The United States called on Serbia, Montenegro and the Bosnian Serb authorities to fulfil their obligations to the Tribunal, in particular through the apprehension and transfer of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, for whom the Tribunal's doors would always remain open. As long as they remained at large, those countries would not be able to engage fully with Euro-Atlantic institutions. The United States was disappointed that, despite many statements of intent from the Government of Serbia, progress had not been made in apprehending Mladić and all other fugitive indictees.
Regarding the Rwanda Tribunal, she said the United States again called on all countries, notably Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to fulfil their international obligations to apprehend and transfer to the Tribunal all persons indicted for war crimes within their respective territories. Those fugitives continued to foment conflict in the Great Lakes region and must be actively pursued and apprehended, consistent with numerous Security Council resolutions.
LESLIE KOJO CHRISTIAN (Ghana) said that, while appreciating the achievements of the Yugoslav Tribunal, he was concerned about the generally slow pace of trials. Unreasonably lengthy trials not only used up the limited resources of the Tribunal, but also had the potential of compromising the completion strategy of the court, in view of the long waiting list of accused persons. It was important that public and international confidence in the Tribunal and in its procedures be maintained. Trials bogged down by delays and over-complicated Rules of Procedure might not be the best way for the Tribunal to project an image of transparency and efficiency.
For that reason, he welcomed the report of the working group on speeding up trials and was happy to note that its proposals were being implemented. He also supported the idea of referral of less serious cases to national jurisdictions, as a means of easing the caseload. The fact that six persons wanted for the most egregious violations of human rights and for war crimes were still at large was a source of great concern. He called on all States in the former Yugoslavia to cooperate with the Tribunal in bringing those fugitives to justice. The mandate of the Tribunal could not be regarded as having been fully implemented when the most serious violators were still at large.
He said he was pleased that the Rwanda Tribunal had completed all investigations as requested by resolution 1503 and had endeavoured to achieve the targets set in the completion strategy. The Tribunal required sufficient resources to bring to justice those persons who were most responsible for genocide and violation of international humanitarian laws. He supported the request for an increase in the number of judges in the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber to enable it to complete its cases by 2010. He also called on neighbouring countries and the international community to cooperate with the Tribunal in apprehending accused persons still at large.
HUGO PEREYRA (Peru) said he supported the work of the two Tribunals, and welcomed the efforts of both to remain within the timetables laid out in their completion strategies. He urged them to do all they could to remain within those timetables. In that process, it was indispensable to maintain a balance between meeting the deadlines and ensuring strict compliance with due process. In order to render justice to the victims, the full cooperation of States was indispensable. More than 10 years had gone by since the Council created the two Tribunals. Yet today, important fugitives remained at large. They must be arrested and transferred to the Tribunals as soon as possible. Other forms of cooperation were also indispensable, such as access to documents and witnesses.
Another element of complying with the completion strategies was the transfer of some lower-level indictees to national jurisdictions, he said. It was necessary to ensure that such transfers went hand in hand with the strengthening of national judicial systems. He appealed for the necessary international assistance to facilitate that process. Strengthening national courts would not only facilitate such transfer, but also had potential regarding generating important consequences in the long term to allow the rule of law to prevail in the countries concerned. He noted that the independent audit of the Yugoslav Tribunal's detention unit had been carried out and hoped its recommendations would soon be implemented. He was prepared to continue to provide the Tribunals with the necessary support to put an end to impunity for the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) expressed sympathy with the Rwanda Tribunal for the difficulties it was experiencing in transferring cases to national jurisdictions, which was a core component of the completion strategy. Following the 30 April video-link conference with the Tribunal President, the Russian Federation had submitted a detailed list of questions, but it had not been adequately answered. Another question concerned the detection of a non-prescribed medicine in Milošević's blood. The Yugoslav Tribunal had not held an immediate inquiry into that matter, which was a serious error. The Tribunal had also refused to release him for medical attention in Moscow and had rejected the guarantees given by the Russian Federation, a permanent member of the Security Council, while, on the other hand, it had temporarily released the former Prime Minister of Kosovo.
The Russian people had been shocked by those responses and wished to know what lessons the Yugoslav Tribunal had drawn, he said. The Russian Federation did not accept the negative assessments regarding its cooperation with the Tribunal and it was implementing all its obligations, including its financial ones towards the Tribunal. As for information about the whereabouts of indicted fugitives, the Russian Federation was continuing its efforts in that regard and had informed the Tribunal accordingly. In addition, the Tribunal should comply strictly with its completion strategy and the timely conclusion of its work within the timetables established by the Security Council. It should not engage in fantasies of seeking the arrest of fugitives in the national territories of Member States.
HUW LLEWELLYN (United Kingdom) said he strongly supported the ongoing work of the Rwanda Tribunal and welcomed the specific measures taken to ensure that work progressed in a timely fashion. He emphasized the need to bring to justice those indictees still at large, including Félicien Kabuga, and stressed the obligation of States to cooperate with the Tribunal and facilitating its work. He supported extending the terms of the Tribunal's judges, as the continuity of the judges was essential for progressing with the completion strategy. However, he emphasized that that did not set a precedent for any future requests from either Tribunal.
He also welcomed the progress made by the Yugoslav Tribunal on its caseload since December, he said. As a strong supporter of the Tribunal, he stressed that those responsible for crimes must be brought to justice. The Tribunal must maintain its efforts to rationalize its working methods and maximize efficiency. He emphasized that full cooperation with the Tribunal remained an ongoing obligation of all States, especially those in the region. He called on States to comply with their obligations, as full cooperation was a fundamental requirement for countries in the region to make progress towards European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) integration.
He called on the authorities of Serbia and Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially Republika Srpska, to commit themselves to the swift arrest and transfer of all indictees to The Hague. He appealed, in particular, to the Government of Serbia and Montenegro "not to squander its European future" for the sake of Mladić and Karadžić. He noted Montenegro's 3 June declaration of independence, adding that it was an important moment in its history. Montenegro's cooperation with the Tribunal would be an important aspect of its integration in the European Union and NATO. He added that Milošević's death should not present an obstacle to the necessity of cooperation by all States, and the lessons learned should be applied in future cases. In addition, the transfer of lower- and intermediate-level detainees was important, but must not be at the expense of fair trials. The United Kingdom supported the Bosnia and Herzegovina War Crimes Chamber, and had committed £2.6 million to the project. He appealed to other donors for similar commitments.
BRIGITTE COLLET (France) said that it had been hoped that all indicted fugitives would be arrested and transferred rapidly, but those hopes had been dashed. Their arrest and transfer was a prerequisite for the integration of Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina into European family. Cooperation with the Tribunals was also an obligation for all States and institutions, and France welcomed Argentina's efforts in that regard, although the Russian Federation had yet to do the same. France also expected full cooperation by all States in transferring fugitives, including Félicien Kabuga and others who remained at large more than a decade after the genocide, and wished to have more details about investigations that were still under way.
Regarding the death of Milošević, she said the Tribunal and the Dutch authorities had carried out the required investigations. France also found it encouraging that judges were playing a more active role. In addition, France appealed to the Yugoslav Tribunal to respect scrupulously the status of the working languages, and called for a more reasonable time for the rendering of justice. Regarding the trial of those accused in the Srebrenica massacre, organizing it as a single case would make the work more significant. On the Rwanda genocide, the idea of increasing the number of judges in the Appeals Chamber should be carefully examined. Referral to national jurisdictions could not be considered for the highest level of indictees, who could not escape the international jurisdictions, especially Karadžić, Mladić and Kabuga. They must be transferred to The Hague and to Arusha.
MARIA TELALIAN (Greece) said she appreciated the intensive work carried out by the Yugoslav Tribunal to enhance its efficiency. The multiple-accused trials would save considerable time and courtroom space. She agreed with the Prosecutor that further refinement of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, in order to improve pretrial process and speed up the presentation of evidence at trial, would result in a better use of valuable court time. It was important, following the end of the Milošević trial, that the Tribunal's judges take into account lessons to be learned to improve the management of future trials. It was equally important that the judges were determined to implement concrete measures to ensure that future trials were conducted expeditiously, while respecting due process considerations.
She welcomed the progress of the trials of the Rwanda Tribunal and the number of judgments issued by the court, she said. In that respect, she supported the request made by the Tribunal President to extend the term of office of the current permanent judges of the Tribunal until 31 December 2008. Concerning the cases to be transferred by the Prosecutor to national jurisdictions, she emphasized the vital importance of capacity-building, compliance with international standards of fair trial and avoidance of transfer to States where the death penalty had not been abolished.
She added that the failure to arrest at-large indictees was a serious obstacle to the effective implementation of the Tribunals' completion strategy. She urged all States and international organizations to closely cooperate with the two Tribunals and to support their difficult mission to put an end to impunity, establish the rule of law and, thus, assist national reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
DUSAN MATULAY (Slovakia) said his country was strongly committed to transparent justice, and considered the Tribunals' completion strategy as a crucial document streamlining the final phase their work. Slovakia appreciated the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and appreciated the recommendations of its working group. Slovakia also shared the expectations that trials held in national jurisdictions would be conducted in full compliance with international norms.
He said his delegation welcomed the results of investigations into the deaths of Milošević and Babić. Slovakia also supported the call on all States to ensure the immediate arrest and transfer of all remaining fugitives to The Hague, so as to enable implementation of the completion strategy. Slovakia appreciated also the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda's intention to transfer some cases to national jurisdictions and insisted strongly that those trials be conducted in full adherence to international standards. Slovakia also insisted on the cooperation of Member States in apprehending all those involved in the Rwanda genocide.
Council President ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking in her national capacity, said that the transfer of the remaining high-level figures to The Hague and Arusha was key in enabling the Tribunals to fulfil their tasks. She reiterated Denmark's call on all countries -- within and outside the respective regions -- to cooperate fully, unconditionally and swiftly with the Tribunals. The Government of Serbia and that of Republika Srpska, within Bosnia and Herzegovina, were particularly well-placed to ensure the apprehension of Mladić and Karadžić. She strongly encouraged both Governments to act on that immediately. Full cooperation was critical for the ability of the Tribunals to function. For the countries of the former Yugoslavia, it was also a precondition for their integration into European and trans-Atlantic structures.
Secondly, Denmark supported the measures taken by the Yugoslav Tribunal to speed up the trials, she said. Those steps were necessary to keep the length of the trials within reasonable time frames. She trusted those measures could be taken without compromising either the legitimate needs of the victims or those of the Prosecutor in building cases. Thirdly, she fully supported the request of the President of the Rwanda Tribunal to extend the terms of its permanent judges until the end of 2008. That would be both sensible and pragmatic at this critical juncture of the Tribunal's work. In her capacity as Council President, she had circulated a draft resolution to that effect for the Council's consideration, and she hoped the Council would be able to adopt that text shortly.
ZORAN LONCAR, Minister for Public Administration and Local Self-Government of Serbia, said the Government had had stated publicly that sheltering Ratko Mladić was an act of dishonesty that directly threatened the country's national interests. The Government had done all in its power to find and transfer him to The Hague. The individuals who had sheltered him in the past had been identified, and the competent court had sentenced 11 people suspected of helping him evade justice to long prison terms. But, despite its intensive and thorough efforts, it had not been possible to locate Mladić. There was undoubtedly political will to establish his whereabouts, which was a technical matter.
Stressing that the Government remained firmly committed to honouring all its international obligations, he said Serbia was also prepared to cooperate fully with the Prosecutor's Office in terms of documents and archives. In early 2006, Carla Del Ponte had sent a proposal on practical modalities that would allow her Office to access official documents, and the Council of Ministers had accepted that proposal. Investigators from the Office of the Prosecutor had subsequently been granted access to archives in the Interior Ministry, but not to those of the Defence Ministry and the Presidency.
Serbia welcomed the Tribunal's efforts to make its work more efficient and just, in order to honour the strict deadlines and conditions set out in resolution 1534 (2004), he said. In that sense, the country considered that tracking down the remaining indictees was of crucial importance, as was transferring them for trial in national jurisdictions. Trials in domestic courts could contribute to the realization of the high goals for which the Council had established the Tribunal. Tried before a domestic court, an indicted person was exposed to a strict moral authority, due to the fact that he stood responsible before his fellow nationals and the court could not be labelled as biased. In the same vein, the domestic court could truly contribute to the realization of mutual reconciliation.
NICHOLAS SHALITA (Rwanda) said that, with only two and a half years remaining for the Rwanda Tribunal to complete its work in accordance with the completion strategy, it was clear that not much time was left, and there was still plenty of work to be done. Outlining some of the areas where he believed urgent progress was essential in the next few months, he said that the perpetrators of the genocide should not be allowed to evade justice, even after 2008. 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. He would welcome appropriate measures that would ensure that all accused were brought to justice, even after the Tribunal's mandate had expired. If notorious suspects such as Félicien Kabuga and Augustine Ngirabatware were allowed to evade justice, it would be an extremely sad indictment on everyone, and would send the wrong signal about the commitment of the international community to prevent genocide by combating impunity.
On the transfer of cases, he noted that it was a widely accepted principle that trials, especially for crimes as serious as genocide, should always take place as close as possible to where the crimes were committed. In that connection, he believed that the trials targeted for transfer should take place in Rwanda. That would contribute to his country's own efforts to eradicate the culture of impunity and promote reconciliation in Rwanda, as its people would be first-hand witnesses to justice being done. Following consultations with the Tribunal, his Government had drafted new legislation to prepare for those transfers. The draft legislation included addressing several procedural issues and the creation of special chambers, as well as the issue of the death penalty. It would waive the death penalty in respect of the transferred cases. He expected that the draft legislation would be tabled before Parliament and adopted within the coming weeks.
Regarding the lack of capacity within the Rwandan judiciary, he had informed the Council in the past that the Government had been steadily building and enhancing the capacity of its judiciary over the last decade. Furthermore, the caseload on the Rwandan judiciary had been significantly reduced, following the introduction of the Gacaca justice system. The judiciary still needed to be strengthened, and he welcomed offers of assistance in that regard. But transferring trials to other jurisdictions did not address the core challenge, which was how to equip Rwandans with the capacity to build a criminal justice system that would, in the long term, fight impunity and promote the rule of law and human rights. With further support from the international community, including financial support for the trials, Rwanda would have the capacity to conduct them in a manner consistent with international standards of fair trial.
On the transfer of convicts, he said his Government had consistently stated that all of the Tribunal's convicts should serve sentences in Rwanda, where the crimes were committed. That was essential for justice and reconciliation processes in Rwanda, which were the main reasons for the establishment of the Tribunal in the first place. The initial concern about the administration of sentences in Rwanda was the lack of a detention facility that met international standards. However, a detention facility had been built more than two years ago, and had been certified by Tribunal officials that it met international standards. Despite that, there continued to be a delay in effecting those transfers. He appealed to the Council to intervene to ensure those transfers were carried out expeditiously.
He believed the Tribunal's completion strategy should incorporate the transfer of all court documents and materials to Rwanda, where they could provide the nucleus of a research and educational centre, which would contribute to raising awareness and genocide prevention in Rwanda and beyond. As the Tribunal completed its work, the United Nations and the international community should bequeath to Rwanda a genocide prevention and educational centre to serve not only in memory of the genocide's 1 million victims, but also to serve as a centre of research and learning about lessons learned and as a centre to promote justice, reconciliation and human rights.
In view of the limited time remaining for the Tribunal, he urged that it strive towards greater effectiveness in its outreach programme, and ensure that its existing information centre, training programmes for jurists, internships and relationships with academic institutions and civil society groups aim to educate and build capacity among Rwandans. He again called on the Tribunal to increase its recruitment of Rwandan jurists and investigators, either as interns or on a permanent basis, in order to ensure knowledge transfer from the Tribunal to Rwandan professionals.
Responding to questions and comments, Judge POCAR, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, thanked speakers for their support for the Yugoslav Tribunal and its efforts to meet the deadlines in its completion strategy. He acknowledged that the process to speed up trials concerned not only the completion strategy, but also respecting due process. Speeding up the trials was a constant preoccupation of the Tribunal, and the measures now being taken had already been considered in the past. At the same time, the process of revising rules had been accelerated by recent events. He shared the concerns expressed as to the death of two persons in the detention centre, one whose trial had not been completed - Milošević -- and the other whose trial had been completed, but had been called back for provided testimony in another case -- Babić.
He assured the Council that the recommendations made by the independent audit of the detention unit would be fully and speedily implemented, as would all measures adopted to speed up the trials. The Tribunal remained fully committed to the completion strategy, while conducting trials that fully met the requirements of due process. It was also fully committed to working together with domestic courts, both for making the referral process effective and for ensuring that the rule of law would be carried out at the local level when the Tribunal closed its doors.
Judge MØSE, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, said he appreciated the emphasis by Council members on States' obligations regarding the arrest and transfer of indictees. Another form of support by the Council had been the focus on capacity-building and the need to ensure necessary resources for countries to which trials would be referred. The remarks of those delegations addressing the extension of the mandate of the Tribunal's judges had been noted with appreciation.
Regarding the question from the representative of Qatar on Charles Taylor, he noted that there was no formalized cooperation between the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Rwanda Tribunal. However, the Tribunal had been asked by the Special Court if it could share courtroom capacity for the Taylor trial. The Tribunal had to turn down that request, since it would put in jeopardy the Tribunal's own efforts to complete its work.
As for the question from Congo's representative on acquitted persons, he stressed that the challenge had been to find places where they could go, as Rwanda had refused to receive them.
Also thanking Council members for their support, Mr. JALLOW said he was encouraged by the appreciation for the crucial role of the referral of cases within the completion strategy, and the need for capacity-building for the success of the referrals. At the current stage, it was necessary to move from encouragement and support for willing countries, to putting in place concrete measures to build capacity in those countries. He assured delegations that referrals were only made on two conditions -- that application of the death penalty be excluded and that fair trials in the willing countries be guaranteed.
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