The Security Council today welcomed the start of work at the Arusha branch of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), emphasizing its importance in ensuring no impunity for those responsible for serious crimes committed in Rwanda, as well as the Balkans, in the 1990s.
The Council set up the IRMCT in December 2010 and mandated it to take over and finish the remaining tasks of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) when they are closed after their mandates expire. The Council has urged the two tribunals to conclude their work by the end of 2014.
The ICTR branch of the Residual Mechanism began its functions on 1 July, while the branch for ICTY will start on 1 July 2013.
In a press statement, the Council members stressed that the IRMCT’s establishment “was essential to ensure that the closure of the ICTR and ICTY does not leave the door open to impunity for the remaining fugitives and for those whose trials or appeals have not been completed.”
“The members of the Security Council recall the contribution of the ad hoc and mixed tribunals, the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as chambers in national tribunals in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” the Council added.
The 15-member Council also reiterated its call on the importance of State cooperation with the courts and tribunals in accordance with states’ respective obligations, and took note of the ICC’s 10th anniversary.
Based in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, the ICTR was set up after the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during three months of bloodletting that followed the death of the then-president Juvenal Habyarimana.
Based in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the ICTY was set up in 1993 to deal with war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990s. The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals.