Judge Carmel Agius, President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), today attended the Commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide at the Potočari memorial in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In paying his respects to the victims President Agius delivered remarks, along with a number of other high-level dignitaries including Mr Sefik Džaferović, current Bosniak Member of the BiH Presidency. In addition, Mr Nedžad Avdić, a survivor of the genocide, addressed the ceremony. President Agius also laid flowers in honour of all those killed during the genocide, including the 33 victims who were buried this afternoon.
In his remarks, President Agius noted that the judgements of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) were the first to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the events in Srebrenica in July 1995 constituted genocide, as subsequently confirmed by the Mechanism and other courts. He spoke of the resulting changes in BiH, highlighting that thanks to the ICTY and the Mechanism, “[t]hose most responsible for the heinous crimes committed during the conflicts of the early 1990s have been brought to justice, an exhaustive historical record has been established, and the vast majority of those who were killed have at long last received a respectful burial.”
President Agius drew attention to the campaign of genocide denial that has been gaining momentum in recent times, observing that such denial is intended to hurt and disempower the victims, and is “being used to political advantage by leaders who seek to gain from having an ethnically-divided BiH that remains stuck in the past.”
The President noted there is “a new urgency to push back strongly against the attempts by the deniers to rewrite history”, particularly in the context of defending the rule of law and the role of the courts. He stated that “a conviction for genocide is not a matter for politicians or individuals to decide”, emphasising the need to proactively denounce and expose “those who would seek to replace the long-standing judgements of international and domestic courts with so-called ‘findings’ of their own.”
In conclusion, President Agius exhorted those present to unite against the voices of hate, to pledge to keep robustly defending the established record, and to continue to demand that the processes of justice be respected and upheld. In doing so, the President said, “we must always remember the victims and their loved ones, who are the reason we are here today”, paying tribute to their “remarkable courage and resilience” which is “an inspiration to us all”.
The ICTY and the Mechanism have convicted 15 individuals for genocide and other crimes committed in Srebrenica in July 1995, including senior Bosnian Serb political and military leaders. During the Srebrenica genocide, up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed or are still missing and up to 30,000 women and children were forcibly transferred from the Srebrenica enclave.
For more information on cases related to crimes committed in Srebrenica in July 1995, tried before the ICTY and the Mechanism, please click here