President Meron addresses the UN Security Council and urges the release of Judge Aydin Sefa Akay from detention

Arusha, The Hague
President Judge Theodor Meron
President Judge Theodor Meron

The President of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (“MICT” and “Mechanism”), Judge Theodor Meron, today presented the latest progress report on the work of the MICT to the United Nations Security Council and urged the release of Judge Aydin Sefa Akay from detention in Turkey.

In his address, President Meron noted that the MICT opened its new premises in Arusha less than two weeks ago. The President expressed his gratitude to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania for its exceptional generosity, and thanked the outgoing MICT Registrar, Mr. John Hocking, for his contribution and commitment to the project’s success. President Meron emphasized that the Arusha premises are minimalist in design, efficient in their use of resources, and reflect best practices in a myriad of ways, as the Mechanism strives to do in all aspects of its work. President Meron underscored in this context that “the Mechanism stands not only as a symbol of accountability and the rule of law but as a new model of and for international justice—a modest, efficient, and cost-effective model that must succeed if international justice and the fight to end impunity are themselves to succeed in the long run.”

With regard to the MICT’s judicial developments, President Meron provided an update on ongoing cases and highlighted that of the 214 judicial decisions and orders issued during the reporting period, nearly 40 per cent related to requests for access to confidential information. President Meron stated that this is “just one of the many ways in which the Mechanism provides assistance to national jurisdictions.”

President Meron further stressed that the Mechanism continues to rely on States’ cooperation for the apprehension of the remaining fugitives, the enforcement of sentences, and a resolution to the issue of acquitted and released individuals currently present in Arusha.

As part of his remarks, President Meron also drew the attention of the Security Council to the ongoing detention of Judge Aydin Sefa Akay and its impact upon the Mechanism’s work. President Meron recalled that, in accordance with a longstanding and consistent practice, the MICT Statute, adopted by the Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, affords international Judges diplomatic immunity whilst engaged on the business of the Mechanism. As a result, Judge Akay has enjoyed diplomatic immunity since his assignment to the Ngirabatware proceedings on 25 July 2016. Nevertheless, Judge Akay remains in detention and is unable to carry out his duties as a Judge of the Mechanism. President Meron called upon the Members of the Security Council to assist in finding a resolution to the situation. He further underscored that he was compelled to raise this matter before the Council by virtue of his duties as the President of the Mechanism, and respectfully appealed to the Government of Turkey to release Judge Akay in the spirit of humanitarianism, so as to enable him to perform and complete his judicial duties, and thereby enable the Mechanism to carry out the important mandate entrusted to it.