USUN at a Security Council Meeting on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT)
Thank you, Mr. President. Presidents Meron and Joensen, Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow, thank you for your reports and, even more, for your dedication to global justice. The recent debate over the Security Council referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC shows that the struggle to hold accountable those responsible for mass atrocities is not behind us. The four of you have shown outstanding leadership in efforts to end impunity and advance accountability. People everywhere are in your debt.
Mr. President, the United States has strongly supported the work of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda since their inception. These two courts have tried more than 200 defendants accused of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including top political and military leaders. This has been a complex and unprecedented undertaking; yet the tribunals have demonstrated a commitment to fairness, impartiality, and independence. Today we see — as demonstrated by events in Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and elsewhere — that mass atrocities still pose a challenge to the global community. And we also see that the record of the ICTY and ICTR provides a warning to leaders that the choices they make and the orders they give can have serious personal consequences.
With the work of the tribunals now nearing completion, the United States commends the efforts of the Presidents and Prosecutors of both tribunals to transfer the remaining functions to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. At the same time, we understand the need for flexibility and recognize that the exact closure dates will depend on the completion of ongoing and soon-to-begin trials and appeals.
Turning to the ICTY, we note with satisfaction that the tribunal continues to focus on the completion of all trials and appeals, having rendered four appellate judgments between November 2013 and May 2014. We are pleased that the trial of Ratko Mladic is moving forward as forecast, and that a judgment in the case of Radovan Karadzic is expected next year. These two men are accused as architects of the Srebrenica genocide, the worst crime committed on European soil since World War II. Completing their trials will help to close the book on one of the most painful chapters in the history of the former Yugoslavia. We urge all governments in the region to continue working towards reconciliation, to avoid statements that inflame tensions, and to continue to bring war criminals to justice in local courts.
Regarding the ICTR, we are pleased that the tribunal has wrapped up its workload of trials and continues to complete appeals. The Mechanism in Arusha opened in 2012 and has smoothly taken over most prosecution and judicial responsibilities. The United States remains concerned, however, that nine ICTR fugitives remain at large. These alleged mass murderers must be brought to trial, and the United States urges all UN members, especially those in the region, to cooperate with the tribunal in the apprehension of these nine men. The United States continues to offer monetary rewards for information leading to their arrest, whether those individuals will be prosecuted in the mechanism or in Rwandan courts. We are working very closely with the ICTR tracking team, as well as the Rwandan government and INTERPOL, to form an international task force later this year, with a view to increasing collaboration in the search for these fugitives. We also call on regional governments to work with the tribunal on the relocation of several persons who have been acquitted by the ICTR or served their sentences but whose return to Rwanda is problematic.
We see the historic contributions these two tribunals have made to international criminal justice. They have brought to justice some of the most vicious criminals in the history of humankind. They have also assembled an historical record that will be publicly accessible and that will protect the truth from those who might, in the future, attempt to deny or distort it. They demonstrate that the world does not forget. Political and military leaders perpetrating atrocities today should ponder this lesson carefully.
I thank you.
- Source: usun.state.gov