Functions of the Mechanism

In accordance with its mandate, the Mechanism has assumed responsibility for a number of functions of the ICTR and the ICTY. These essential functions are discussed below.

Tracking and prosecution of remaining fugitives

Two individuals indicted by the ICTR for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes are still at large. Locating and arresting the remaining ICTR fugitives is a top priority for the Mechanism’s Office of the Prosecutor.

Read more on Searching for the Fugitives

Appeals proceedings

The Mechanism is responsible for conducting and completing all appeal proceedings for which the notice of appeal was filed after the start of the relevant branch of the Mechanism. These proceedings may involve appeals against trial judgements, or sentences, pronounced by the ICTR, the ICTY, or the Mechanism.

Review proceedings

The Mechanism may review judgements pronounced by the ICTR, the ICTY, or the Mechanism if a new fact, not known at the time of the trial or appeal proceedings, is discovered, and a Chamber accepts that such a fact, if proven, could have been a decisive factor in reaching the judgement, review proceedings may be conducted.


The Mechanism may also conduct retrials of ICTR, ICTY, and Mechanism cases.

Trials for contempt and false testimony

The Mechanism may conduct investigations, trials, and appeals in cases of contempt of court and false testimony committed in the course of proceedings before the ICTR, the ICTY, or the Mechanism. This jurisdiction also extends to contempt cases and false testimony cases arising from proceedings before the ICTR and the ICTY for which the indictment was confirmed after the start date of the respective branch of the Mechanism.

Cases referred to national jurisdictions

Pursuant to Article 6(5) of its Statute, the Mechanism is responsible for monitoring cases referred by the ICTR and the ICTY to national courts, with the assistance of international and regional organizations and bodies.

Protection of victims and witnesses

Approximately 7,000 witnesses, many of whom are also victims, gave evidence before the ICTR and the ICTY. In total, 46 per cent of those witnesses were granted protective measures by the Tribunals.  The Mechanism continues to ensure that witnesses receive protection and support both for ongoing cases before the Mechanism and completed cases from the two Tribunals and the Mechanism.

Read more on Witnesses

Supervision of enforcement of sentences

Persons convicted by the ICTR, the ICTY, and the Mechanism serve their sentences in one of the States that have signed an agreement on the enforcement of sentences. These sentences are enforced in accordance with international standards on detention and the applicable law of the enforcing State, subject to the supervision of the Mechanism.

The President of the Mechanism is responsible for designating the State of enforcement, supervising the enforcement of sentences, and deciding on requests for pardon, commutation of sentence, or early release.

Discover our Interactive Map on Enforcement of Sentences

Assistance to national jurisdictions

With the completion of the ICTR’s mandate at the end of 2015, and the ICTY’s mandate at the end of 2017, further cases related to crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia are now being tried within national jurisdictions. Consequently, the number of requests for assistance from courts, prosecutors, and defence lawyers in relation to national investigations and prosecutions has been growing.

The Mechanism facilitates requests by national authorities, or parties to national proceedings, for assistance in connection with domestic proceedings related to the national investigations and prosecutions of crimes committed in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia. The Mechanism responds to requests for assistance from national authorities and others by providing evidence, facilitating the collection of information, and offering other technical support at their request.

Read more on Assistance to national jurisdictions

Preservation and management of archives

The Mechanism is responsible for the preservation, including the management and access, of the ICTR, the ICTY, and the Mechanism archives. These archives document investigations, indictments, and court proceedings, the protection of witnesses, work relating to the detention of accused persons, the enforcement of sentences, and the Tribunals’ relationships with States, other law enforcement authorities, international and non-governmental organizations, and the general public. The archives consist of a range of materials, from photographs and documents to maps and audiovisual recordings.

The archives are the property of the United Nations and the Mechanism Archives and Records Section (“MARS”) preserves them in accordance with the highest international standards.

Discover our online exhibition A Glimpse into the Archives

Read more on the Archives