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Completion Strategy Report: Prosecutor Brammertz Addresses the United Nations Security Council

Office of the Prosecutor | | The Hague |

Today Prosecutor Serge Brammertz presented to the United Nations Security Council the Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) 23rd completion strategy report, covering the period from 16 November 2014 to 15 May 2015. He briefed the Council on the current status of trials and appeals at the ICTY, the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia and Serbia with the OTP, and the situation regarding national war crimes prosecutions. The Prosecutor also emphasized the need to intensify the search for missing persons in the region, and concluded his remarks by reflecting on the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

The Prosecutor informed the Council that there are currently four trials and three appeals remaining at the ICTY. With respect to the Mladic case, he stated, "My Office will later this month briefly reopen the Prosecution case to present newly-discovered evidence on the Tomašica mass grave." The Prosecution evidence will be presented in nine courtroom hours. The Hadžić trial was adjourned in October 2014 due to the accused’s ill health, and trial judgements in the Šešelj and Karadžić cases are expected to be delivered later this year. Only three appeal proceedings remain: Stanišić and Simatović, Stanišić and Župljanin and Prlić et al. Turning to the cooperation of states, the Prosecutor reported, "The countries of the former Yugoslavia continue to cooperate with the OTP and respond, as required, to our requests for assistance."

With respect to national war crimes prosecutions in the former Yugoslavia, the Prosecutor recognized "the significant results during the reporting period in regional cooperation on high-profile cases." However, he also noted that "only a limited number of the outstanding cases at the national level have been prosecuted to-date," and that "more should be done on the most complex and highest-priority cases."

Regarding the Prosecutor's Office of BiH in particular, the Prosecutor reminded the Council that he had previously reported "the need for improved management and leadership." For the cases transferred to the BiH Prosecutor's Office by the OTP (Category II cases), there was only "limited progress", although the Chief Prosecutor of BiH "gave strong assurances that prosecutorial decisions will be taken in all remaining cases by the end of this year." On a more positive note, Prosecutor Brammertz pointed to successful results in the prosecution of crimes related to the Srebrenica genocide by BiH prosecutors.

Prosecutor Brammertz assured the Council that the OTP would "continue to engage directly with national authorities and encourage full responsibility for the accountability process, while assisting them to improve their methods and implement lessons learned."

The Prosecutor informed the Council that, for victims from every group, the search for missing persons continues to be a key priority. He underscored that "there are still too many families who do not know the fate of their loved ones," and emphasized that "more can be done." He reported that the OTP was participating in an intensive effort to strengthen the search for missing persons in BiH.

Prosecutor Brammertz concluded his remarks by addressing the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide in July this year. He said, "It will be an opportunity to remember all victims of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and to recognize that survivors are making extraordinary efforts to build a more peaceful future." He added that "it is also an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm its commitment to justice for past crimes and to prevent their repetition."