|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 6 June 2011
Prosecutor Brammertz’s Address before the Security Council
|Prosecutor Serge Brammertz
ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz addressed the UN Security Council today, delivering the 15th report on his office’s progress towards the completion of its mandate.
The Prosecutor stated that the arrest of Ratko Mladić on 26 May 2011 was significant on many levels. For the victims, it is a long overdue opportunity for redress. For the Tribunal, it removes one of the last obstacles to holding accountable those most responsible for the wartime atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. For international criminal justice, it confirms that accountability for war crimes is not a fleeting interest, but an enduring value. The Prosecutor said that “Serbia now has an important opportunity to help the public understand why Ratko Mladić has been arrested and why justice demands that he stand trial”.
The Prosecutor thanked the Serbian authorities for making the arrest. He particularly acknowledged the role played by the National Security Council, the Action Team established to track the fugitives and the operatives from the security services.
The Prosecutor said that “Serbia has met one of its key obligations towards the Tribunal and simultaneously acknowledged the rule of law as a central building block for its future”. He also welcomed the Serbian Government’s statement that it would investigate and prosecute the networks that supported Ratko Mladić during his time in hiding. He asked the Serbian Government to follow through on these undertakings as a matter of priority.
The Prosecutor also asked the Serbian Government to follow the recommendations on fugitive tracking efforts set out in his written report and continue the operational improvements that led to Ratko Mladić’s arrest. “We want the remaining ICTY fugitive – Goran Hadžić – apprehended without further delay”, he said.
In relation to the assistance to ongoing trials and appeals proceedings, the Prosecutor stated that, during the reporting period, “Serbia has promptly provided access to the documents and archives we have requested”.
When it comes to Croatia’s cooperation, the Prosecutor reported that in general, timely and adequate responses were received concerning requests for witnesses and evidence. The Prosecutor, however, said that “limited progress was made in locating the missing military documents concerning Operation Storm”. Nevertheless, on 15 April 2011, the Trial Chamber rendered its judgment in the Gotovina et al. case and found that the crimes against Gotovina and Markač were proven based on the evidence submitted at trial. The Prosecutor added that it is “unfortunate that in the aftermath of the judgment, the highest state officials failed to comment objectively on the outcome of the case.”
Turning to the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor said that the Office of the Prosecutor received prompt and adequate responses to its request to access documents and Government archives.
When it comes to the progress in trials and appeals at the Tribunal, the Prosecutor told the Security Council that his office completed the presentation of its case-in-chief in all but three cases. The focus of attention will now turn towards the appellate phase of proceedings.
The Prosecutor also reported that steady progress was made towards implementing the Security Council’s Resolution establishing the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. He said that his office was making the necessary preparations with the Registry and with counterparts at the ICTR to ensure a co-ordinated and efficient structure for the two prosecution offices of the Mechanism.
As the Tribunal approaches the completion of its mandate, the Prosecutor stated that remaining staff members are shouldering unrealistically heavy burdens due to staff attrition. Retaining key staff will become an increasing problem in the next reporting period.
The Prosecutor also told the Security Council that he was intensifying the focus on supporting national war crimes prosecutions. He stressed that cooperation between prosecutors in the region must be a priority to resolve problems such as parallel investigations. In July an agreement is expected to be signed between Bosnia and Serbia to improve the situation. The Prosecutor expressed the hope that increased cooperation between Bosnia and Serbia would also lead to more effective efforts to apprehend Radovan Stanković, who remains at large nearly four years after escaping from prison in Foča.
Underlining the importance of national war crimes strategies, the Prosecutor expressed deep concern in relation to recent political initiatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina that sought to undermine the work of the state prosecutor’s office and the state war crimes court.
The Prosecutor concluded his presentation to the Security Council by saying that the long-awaited arrest of Ratko Mladić stands out as “one of the most significant developments and his office is committed to moving ahead expeditiously with his trial”. He asked the international community to ensure that necessary resources to complete the work are made available. He also called upon governments in the former Yugoslavia to “support the work of the OTP to use it as a platform for promoting reconciliation in the region”.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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