The President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), Judge Carmel Agius, today presented his first progress report to the United Nations Security Council (Council) since taking up office on 19 January 2019. In his address, President Agius highlighted the most notable aspects of the Mechanism’s work during the past six months.
Regarding the Mechanism’s residual judicial workload, President Agius noted that the Appeal Judgement in the Karadžić case was delivered on 20 March 2019 at the Mechanism’s Hague branch, stressing the timely conclusion of this significant case. President Agius updated the Council on the Mladić appeal case, which is expected to conclude by the end of 2020, and the solid progress made in the Stanišić & Simatović re-trial, in which the Defence case commenced on 18 June 2019. With regard to proceedings at the Arusha branch, the President informed the Council that the review hearing in the Ngirabatware case is anticipated to be held in September 2019. Further, the trial in the Turinabo et al. case against five persons accused of contempt of court is expected to start in October 2019.
President Agius made a number of observations regarding the Mechanism’s responsibilities in the area of enforcement of sentences, emphasising that “justice does not end with the delivery of a judgement” and that “in order to have an enduring impact on international peace and justice, we must all remain committed not only to having trials and appeals and active judicial processes, but also to what comes afterwards.” The President called upon Member States to assist in relation to nine persons who were acquitted or released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and who currently remain in Arusha under the Mechanism’s responsibility as no State has yet been willing to accept them. President Agius highlighted that “these persons should be free to start a new life, having served their sentences or never been convicted in the first place”.
President Agius was pleased to note that his address before the Council coincided with the Day of International Criminal Justice. While emphasising the important work undertaken by international courts and tribunals, the President stated that “international criminal justice is not the responsibility of courts alone” and that “all those who are committed to the rule of law have a vital part to play in the fight against impunity”.
The President reiterated the need to stand firm against those who deny the legitimacy of the findings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the ICTR and the Mechanism, particularly given the recent resurgence in genocide denial and revisionism. In his view, “[i]nternational criminal justice concerns us all, because justice is in the service of peace, and peace must be maintained on a daily basis”.
In closing, President Agius expressed determination to do his “utmost to maximise the Mechanism’s ability to deliver meaningful justice and to fulfil all aspects of its mandate in an effective and efficient manner”, and his hope that the Mechanism would continue to find support in the Council, as it has thus far.
Following the President’s address, statements were made by Members of the Council as well as by representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Rwanda and Serbia.