Prosecutor Serge Brammertz of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism) today addressed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
He began by providing an update regarding the limited number of ongoing trials and appeals under the Mechanism’s jurisdiction, namely the appeals in Karadžić and Mladić, the retrial in Stanišić and Simatović and pre-trial proceedings in the Turinabo et al. contempt case. Regarding the appeal judgment in the Karadžić case, which confirmed Karadžić’s convictions at trial and increased his sentence to life imprisonment, Prosecutor Brammertz said, “This case is a powerful demonstration that when the international community remains determined, justice can and will prevail.”
The Prosecutor then briefed the Security Council on the status of the search for the remaining eight fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He informed the Security Council that during the reporting period, the OTP has developed credible intelligence on the current whereabouts of several fugitives, and accordingly approached a number of Member States to seek their cooperation. He noted, however, that there are a number of issues in state cooperation that have negatively impacted the OTP’s efforts to secure arrests. Prosecutor Brammertz emphasized: “This year marked the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide. It is time for the remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR to be brought to justice. The victims have waited for far too long.”
In relation to national efforts in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to achieve more justice for more victims, the Prosecutor noted that Rwandan authorities continue to search for more than 500 fugitives, while in the former Yugoslavia, thousands of cases still need to be processed by national courts. Noting that last year, the OTP received 333 requests for assistance to provide evidence, more than ever before, Prosecutor Brammertz explained, “Our national counterparts are unanimous that they need more support, assistance and advice to successfully implement national war crimes strategies.” Regarding regional judicial cooperation in the former Yugoslavia, which has been moving in the wrong direction for the last several years, the Prosecutor said, “I am pleased to report that with my Office’s support, at the recent conference in Belgrade the region’s chief prosecutors agreed to transfer specific cases involving mid-level officials from the countries where the crimes were committed to the countries where suspects are now living. They further requested my Office to facilitate this process.”
Finally, Prosecutor Brammertz again informed the Security Council about the continued glorification of war criminals and denial of crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. In relation to Rwanda, the Prosecutor said, “Efforts to minimize the scale of the death and destruction, or point to other factors to detract attention from the facts of the genocide, are unacceptable.” Regarding the former Yugoslavia, Prosecutor Brammertz emphasized that “denial brings profound pain to the victims,” and that “glorification punishes the youth” by “driving them apart rather than bringing them together”. He concluded, “The international community failed the victims in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia by standing by as the crimes were committed. We cannot fail them again now by not speaking out against denial and glorification.”