Prosecutor Serge Brammertz of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) today addressed the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
He began by providing an update regarding cases transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: the appeals in Karadžić and Mladić, and the retrial in Stanišić and Simatović.
The Prosecutor then briefed the Security Council regarding the case Prosecutor v. Turinabo et al. at the Arusha branch, which arose out of the ongoing review proceeding in the Ngirabatware case. Following an intensive investigation over the last year, the OTP recently indicted five Rwandan nationals for contempt of court and incitement to commit contempt of court by interfering with witnesses in order to overturn the conviction of Augustin Ngirabatware. The Prosecutor said, “My Office wants to send a clear message that our victims and witnesses will be protected, and that we will oppose genocide denial in all of its manifestations.”
In relation to the search for the remaining eight fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Prosecutor Brammertz informed the Security Council that during the reporting period, intelligence and investigative activities generated some actionable leads. The Prosecutor underscored, “In order for us to complete this residual function as expeditiously as possible, state cooperation remains essential.”
Prosecutor Brammertz again informed the Security Council about the continued glorification of war criminals and denial of crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and that judicial cooperation in war crimes cases between the countries of the region is at its lowest level in years. The Prosecutor stated, “Positive steps are undermined by irresponsible comments from other officials denying what has been established beyond reasonable doubt by international courts, and portraying as heroes men who committed the most serious violations of international law.”
Finally, the Prosecutor raised the humanitarian imperative to locate and identify persons still missing as a result of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. During the reporting period, the Prosecutor met with representatives of the families of the missing. As he informed the Security Council, “Their message to all of us is simple: intensify efforts, deepen cooperation and finally return the missing to their families.” In this regard, at the recent London Summit organized by the United Kingdom, all governments of the region pledged to increase their activities and cooperation, and prevent politicization of this issue.
In conclusion, Prosecutor Brammertz assured the UNSC that “my Office is firmly focused on completing our remaining functions efficiently and effectively, including by investigating and prosecuting interference with witnesses and contempt of court.”