– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding Country Croatia aligns itself with this declaration.
This year, once again, the European Union and its Member States reaffirm their unwavering support for the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Both Tribunals are making invaluable contributions to our shared goal of ending impunity for serious international crimes. The European Union and its Member States thank both President Meron and President Joensen for their reports, and commend them for their efforts in completing the work of the Tribunals. We also pay special tribute to the work of all the staff of the Tribunals.
The Tribunals have played key roles in strengthening the rule of law and promoting long-term stability and reconciliation, and not only in the Balkans and Rwanda. Their jurisprudence has had far wider effects. Since their establishment, both Tribunals have embodied the need to fight impunity and the refusal by the international community to let the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern escape justice. They were forerunners in creating jurisprudence that is a source of inspiration for all national and international jurisdictions that are addressing and will have to address such crimes. Their record bears that out.
International criminal justice does exist, now with a permanent ICC, it prevails and, sooner or later, the perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. The arrests and swift transfers to The Hague of the long sought fugitives Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic demonstrated this. Their trials – as all the other cases ongoing before the Courts – will fulfil a duty to provide justice for the victims and their families.
We recall that States’ cooperation remains the cornerstone of the Tribunals’ ability to complete their mandate, in particular cooperation in bringing those indicted before justice. In respect of the ICTR, we recall that despite continuing appeals by the international community, nine accused individuals remain at large. The failure to arrest these indictees remains a matter of grave concern. Among those still at large are three key indictees allegedly responsible for the most serious atrocities, including Félicien Kabuga. We call on all States concerned to intensify their efforts to ensure that all indictees are arrested and surrendered to the ICTR.
We note that the cooperation of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the ICTY has generally been adequate during the reporting period which saw in particular Serbia meet one of its key obligations with the apprehension of Goran Hadzic, the final indictee to be tried before the Tribunal. The countries remain committed to meeting their obligations towards the Tribunal and towards justice. Completing the process of rendering justice for crimes committed during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia is essential for lasting reconciliation. Full cooperation with the ICTY remains an essential condition for Stabilization and Association Process in the Western Balkans and is an essential condition for membership of the EU.
The EU and its Member States also call upon the governments concerned to pursue with greater vigour the proper conduct of domestic war crime trials. Political leaders should avoid statements and measures that could call into question the importance of reconciliation and the need to serve justice through the prosecution of war crimes. We continue to urge all States to cooperate with both Tribunals in full adherence with their obligations under the relevant UNSC resolutions.
With regard to the ICTR, the EU and its Member States note with appreciation that the Prosecutor has intensified efforts to track the remaining fugitives and in this regard has sought support from regional organisations in Eastern and Southern Africa. We also note that active consultations with Interpol and with Member States elsewhere have also assisted in narrowing the search for the three top level fugitives. Cooperation with States is needed to ensure that the fugitives are apprehended.
In recognition of strengthened domestic capacity, the Security Council in its resolutions 1503 (2003) and 1534 (2004) called on the ICTY and ICTR to transfer all lower and mid-level accused to competent national jurisdictions for trial by domestic courts. We welcome the ongoing efforts of Rwanda, in cooperation with international donors, to strengthen the Rwandan legal system and its ability to adjudicate cases from the ICTR. The European Union and its Member States confirm their commitment to support activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Rwandan judiciary. We note with appreciation that the Prosecutor of the ICTR has completed the preparation of the case files for the fugitives earmarked for transfer to national jurisdictions, and that the Office of the Prosecutor has handed over the completed dossiers in order to facilitate their early indictment, trial and judgement before the Rwandan High Court.
We welcome the work of the Tribunals on strengthening the capacity of national authorities to handle the remaining war crime cases effectively. We fully support – including with financial means – the training and information exchanges as well as the access to publicly available investigating material and evidence from the Tribunals. This is important for the Tribunal’s legacy and for the domestic capacity to adjudicate war crimes. In its Stabilization and Association Process for the Western Balkans, the EU is increasingly underlining the importance of local ownership for handling war crime cases in line with the need to fight impunity.
The EU and its Member States further welcome the launch on 2 July 2012 of the Arusha Branch of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1966 of 22 December 2010, following the election on 20 December 2011 of a roster of 25 judges who will serve the Mechanism and form its core. In its first decision of 5 October 2012, the Appeals Chamber of the Mechanism upheld a decision by the ICTR to transfer a case to the Republic of Rwanda for trial proceedings. In reaching its decision, the Appeal Chamber stated that the Mechanism’s Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence reflect normative continuity with those of the ICTY and ICTR. According to the Appeal Chamber, “These parallels are not simply a matter of convenience or efficiency but serve to uphold principles of due process and fundamental fairness, which are the cornerstone of international justice”. We look forward to the establishment of the ICTY Branch of the Mechanism, which is foreseen on 1 July 2013.
Finally, we welcome the steps taken by the Tribunals in terms of capacity-building, dissemination of information and legacy. We note in particular the Conference hosted by the ICTY in November 2011 on the global legacy of the Tribunal and that efforts have been deployed towards creating information centres in the region of the former Yugoslavia. We also note the workshops, legal trainings and exhibitions organised by the ICTR. It is important that knowledge gained and lessons learned in the fight against impunity are not forgotten.
Thank you Mr. President.