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Officials from UN war crimes tribunals urge enhanced global support

Officials from UN war crimes tribunals urge enhanced global support

Senior officials from the United Nations tribunals established to try those responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide and atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s today called for scaled-up support and cooperation from Member States to bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice.

The Presidents and Prosecutors of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) told the Security Council that the international community must boost efforts to apprehend fugitives and enhance funding to ensure they can continue their work.

“We strongly believe that the remaining fugitives – Ratko Mladić, Radovan Karadžić, Stojan Župljanin and Goran Hadžić – are within reach of the authorities in Serbia and the Serbian authorities can do more to locate and arrest them,” said ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz.

He requested that Croatia make key archival documents available immediately and asked Bosnia and Herzegovina to “adopt a more pro-active approach against those helping the fugitives evade justice.”

Mr. Brammertz – formerly the Commissioner of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) examining the February 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri and other killings in the country – also appealed for continued funding for the War Crimes Department in the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina to bolster the country’s “fragile” justice system.

ICTY President Fausto Pocar underscored the importance of international support to avoid a “fatal miscalculation” and endanger progress towards reconciliation and consolidating the rule of law.

“The involvement of the international community in the resolution of the conflict and the decision to create the International Tribunal remains one of the shining examples of the international community coming together and acting decisively,” he told an open debate of the Council, which heard from nearly two dozen speakers.

“Too often, though, interest wanes once a country or region is not in the headlines anymore, and as years go by, political and financial support from international actors dries up,” Mr. Pocar cautioned, noting that the former Yugoslavia is facing this situation.

On Rwanda, ICTR Prosecutor Hassan B. Jallow said that due primarily to three new arrests made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), France and Germany, the trials will not be completed until next year, which will require additional funding.

Felicien Kabuga, a fugitive, is believed to be living in Kenya, with property and businesses in his name there. “Kenya must now proceed to maintain an active search for the fugitive within its territory with a view to arresting him and transferring him to the ICTR or establishing his departure from its territory,” Mr. Jallow said to the Council.

He called on the East African nation to freeze Mr. Kabuga’s bank accounts and investigate his business interests.

The Tribunal’s President, Dennis Byron, noted that in spite of the Registrar’s strenuous efforts, the relocation of two people acquitted by the Tribunal has yet to be resolved.

“This issue, as well as that of the relocation of those convicted persons who will complete the service of sentence, is increasingly becoming crucial as the Tribunal moves towards its completion,” he said, stressing that the continued support of all Member States is key in allowing the ICTR to accomplish its mandate to “bring justice and restore peace and security in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region.”

Addressing reporters, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad of the United States, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, said that in the meeting, many members called on all States to cooperate with the Tribunals.

Noting the horrific crimes that occurred in both the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, he said that “there is a determination on the part of Council members to assist the Tribunals to efficiently finish their work as soon as possible.”