I thank President Meron of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and President Joensen of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) for their reports (S/2012/592 and S/2012/594) and Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow for their briefings.
I will start by stressing the importance that France attaches to the work of the two Tribunals, the fight against impunity in general and the duty to remember. Facing vast challenges, including the difficulty of arresting suspects and the need to provide witness protection, often over the course of many years, the staff of the Tribunals have carried out long-term work, paving the way for the creation of the International Criminal Court, which has permanent worldwide jurisdiction. We thank them.
With specifi c reference to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, we note that the completion of its work is on schedule, as promised. That is very positive. We also welcome the fact that the procedure followed by the Tribunal to preserve evidence, as called for in rule 71 bis of its Rules of Procedure and Evidence, is nearly complete. That will facilitate proceedings in the cases of the three high-ranking fugitives Augustin Bizimana, Félicien Kabuga and Protais Mpiranya, who will be tried under the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals once they are apprehended.
We believe that the transfer of cases to national jurisdictions is an important part of the completion strategy for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The President and the Prosecutor came to France to monitor the progress of the cases brought against Laurent Bucyibaruta and Wenceslas Munyeshyaka under French jurisdiction. The interim Registrar is in France this week. French authorities will fully attend to the Tribunal’s concerns and requests regarding the proceedings.
The Tribunal continues to face difficulties, especially on the subject of cooperation. The President and the Prosecutor spoke to us about the matter of arresting of fugitives. It is the obligation of all countries to cooperate with the ICTR, as stipulated in the Council’s resolutions. The Council should remind all States of that duty.
A second issue related to the cooperation with the Tribunal is the relocation of persons it acquits or who were convicted but have completed their sentences. France was the first to host several individuals in its territory at the request of the Tribunal. We support the Tribunals in urging more States to promptly accept in their territory the persons concerned.
I confirm that France supports the request made earlier today for an extension of the terms of judges.
As for the ICTY, it is currently dealing with very complex cases, which explains the delays in the calendar. Most complex are the Šešelj, Hadžić, Mladić and Karadžić cases. Of course, we hope that the Tribunal will complete its work as soon as possible, but nothing should detract from its ability to render justice in cases so serious. In the case of the ICTY, too, we support the requested extension of the judges’ terms.
Judgements in international criminal justice are binding on all. It is not for States to debate them, but to implement them. That is as true for the ad hoc Tribunals as for the International Criminal Court. They are not an exercise in variable geometry.
There is also an obligation to honour victims. The ICTY rules in its judgements on the criminal responsibility of particular individuals, but its judgements also attest to the larger fact that in the former Yugoslavia heinous crimes were committed by all parties. The ICTY has categorized the Srebrenica massacres as genocide; disarmed soldiers were subject to illegal execution; there were campaigns of ethnic cleansing, and minorities suffered persecutions.
All cases of crimes against civilians or against combatants in violation of the Geneva Conventions must be pursued. The excuse that some of the crimes in question were committed only in reaction to attack is not acceptable. Victims deserve for those crimes to be recognized as such, for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, and for they themselves to receive appropriate reparation. The most recent judgements of the ICTY and the widely divergent reactions to its recent acquittals show that the Tribunal’s work still elicits strong feeling in the region. The populations concerned must be made to trust that justice will be done for all victims.
As the international Tribunals are in the process of completing their work, the responsibility of the States of the region to be active in the fight against impunity is of the utmost importance. We were concerned that the report gives no sense that the countries of the region are mobilizing to pursue cases at the local level. Moreover, regional cooperation remains insufficient. For France, as a member of the European Union, full cooperation with the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and regional cooperation remain major considerations, as well as essential obligations in the framework of the Stabilization and Association Process for candidate countries and potential candidates for accession.
In conclusion, I wish to thank the Ambassador of Guatemala, chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals, his team, the representatives of the Tribunals and the Office of Legal Affairs of the Secretariat for their efforts to implement the transition pursuant to resolution 1966 (2010).
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