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| ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz
ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz addressed the UN Security Council today, delivering the 16th report on the progress of his Office (OTP) towards the completion of its mandate.
At the outset the Prosecutor said that the major development in the last reporting period was the arrest of the Tribunal’s last fugitive, Goran Hadžić, which took place on 20 July 2011. With his arrest, none of the 161 persons indicted by the ICTY remain at large. The Prosecutor said that the arrests of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić meant that “no individual has ultimately escaped the ICTY’s reach and the final impediment to completing our mandate has been removed”. The Prosecutor paid particular attention to the role of the international community that “maintained pressure and provided positive incentives for Serbia to choose accountability over impunity and the rule of law over misplaced loyalty to war criminals”.
The Prosecutor further noted that, with Mladić and Hadžić in custody, his Office was fully occupied with finishing trials and appeals. He said that in the majority of the trials the evidence presentation would likely conclude in the next reporting period. The focus will then remain on the remaining trials (Karadžić, Mladić and Hadžić) and the appeals proceedings. The Prosecutor noted, however, that the departure of key staff in the midst of cases is an “on-going problem requiring careful consideration and smart solutions”.
The Prosecutor stated that cooperation of States, in particular from the former Yugoslavia would remain essential as long as there are ongoing cases. When it comes to Serbia’s cooperation, the Prosecutor said that the arrest of the final two fugitives has put the cooperative relationship between his office and Serbia on a new, more positive, footing. He acknowledged “the good work done by the authorities in Belgrade, under the leadership of the President, particularly the National Security Council, the Action Team established to track the fugitives and the Security Service operatives who carried out the arrest operations”. The Prosecutor also thanked Serbia’s National Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal for ensuring that information required for OTP cases is promptly delivered. The Prosecutor further stated that he expected “to see results from Serbia’s investigation into how ICTY fugitives, including Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić, managed to evade justice for so many years” and expected more to be done on this issue.
When it comes to the cooperation of Croatia, the Prosecutor said Croatia, in particular the office in charge of cooperation with international courts, adequately dealt with the limited number of requests that were made by the OTP. However, the Prosecutor expressed his concerns about the fact that “State officials at the highest level in Croatia continued to glorify illegal war-time conduct and question the impartiality of the ICTY’s judgments”. In addition, he stated that the legislation recently passed to annul war crimes indictments issued by Serbia against Croatian citizens reinforced the OTP’s concerns. He added that “so long as these developments continue, reconciliation will be delayed and the rule of law will be derailed”.
Turning to the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor said that the day-to-day cooperation with the OTP proceeded well. However, the Prosecutor stated that there are “troubling signs that the National War Crimes Strategy is struggling and urgent action is required to turn the situation around”.
The Prosecutor pointed to the case of Radovan Stanković, who remained at large more than four years after his escape from Foča, as “symptomatic of the broader problems”. The Prosecutor stated that “very little has been done to return him to custody” and that “the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina appear unconcerned about a fugitive who has committed crimes against their citizens and who has scorned their judicial process”. The Prosecutor further stressed that the neighbouring countries should also play a role in resolving the Stanković situation.
Prosecutor Brammertz said that there was limited political will and insufficient resources to complete the remaining war crimes prosecutions. He noted that the large backlog of cases includes investigation files transferred by the ICTY and that the cases were not efficiently moved between the state and entity-level prosecutors. In addition, he expressed concerns about the frequent political attacks on the judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina which undermine the National War Crimes Strategy. The Prosecutor also called upon the international community to “help Bosnia and Herzegovina steer a more successful course towards accountability for war-time atrocities”.
The Prosecutor then touched upon the OTP’s preparations for the Residual Mechanism, stressing that the OTP continued working together with ICTY Registry and the ICTR Office of the Prosecutor to facilitate a smooth transition into a small and efficient Residual Mechanism.
The Prosecutor concluded his presentation by stating that “national war crimes strategies in the region, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, are floundering”. He added that “if they are left to fail, the ICTY’s legacy, along with reconciliation and the rule of law, will be endangered”. The Prosecutor said that if leaders in the States of the former Yugoslavia “have the courage and commitment” and if they “put aside narrow-minded and short-term political agendas”, they “could choose a future built on accountability and the rule of law instead of nationalism and strife”. In that respect, the Prosecutor also pointed to the critical role of the international community and called upon it “to show the same commitment to justice”’, as demonstrated over the past two decades in building the ICTY’s success.
The full text of the Prosecutor's speech can be found at:
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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