Thank you Mr President,
I thank the Presidents and Prosecutors of the International Tribunals for The Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda for their very useful reports and briefings here today. I greet Judge Byron and congratulate Judge Khan and wish her all the success on her assumption of the presidency of the ICTR. I wish to make four comments:
First to welcome the recent developments on the arrest of Ratko Mladic and Bernard Munyagishari.
The arrest of Ratko Mladic indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for genocide and crimes against humanity is a significant outcome of the cooperation of Serbia with the ICTY and a positive step towards reconciliation in the region, as well as, to the European institutional perspective of Serbia and the other Balkans States, as this Council promptly recognized. We also welcome Serbia declared intention to continue the search for Goran Hadzic, the remaining indicted person by ICTY still at large.
On the same day, Bernard Munyagishari was also arrested. He is accused of crimes against humanity during the 1994 conflict in Rwanda. He was captured after 17 years, through cooperation between the Democratic Republic of Congo’s authorities and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and should be brought before the ICTR, as should all the other fugitives.
Cooperation with the Tribunals is, indeed, most crucial to conclude their work. We note other developments in this regard reported by the Prosecutors and their efforts, in cooperation with the national authorities, to detain those still at large that must be brought to trial and provide access to documents identified as necessary for the investigation. We welcome the efforts undertaken in the region by national authorities, as reported, and encourage all further possible efforts by these authorities to respond to the Prosecutors’ and Tribunals’ requests.
Secondly, I wish to commend the efforts put forward by the Tribunals in keeping, as much as possible, with the schedule of case work. In our view it is important that the Tribunals are able to avoid significant slippage in the Tribunal’s work in order to conclude the cases within the time frame established, while making sure that the highest international standards of due process are preserved. On the other side, it is vital that all administrative obstacles hampering the Tribunals work, namely in the field of human resources, are rapidly and effectively removed. Portugal understands the assessments of the Presidents of the Tribunals and will endeavor in the Council, in the informal working group and in the General Assembly to support the appropriate measures, as identified, to facilitate their work, stressing the need for allowing the necessary measures to overcome difficulties, particularly in human resources management. The problem of staff attrition is a serious one, with a direct repercussion in the successful and timely transition to the residual mechanism. All efforts, including through flexible and pragmatic administrative arrangements, should be made to facilitate the retention of the personnel needed to conclude in due time the cases assigned to them.
My third point is to highlight other important matters presented by the Presidents in their reports concerning the enforcement of sentences - that is identifying and encouraging further countries willing to host convicted persons to serve their sentences - and the particular situation of the 3 acquitted persons still remaining at a safe house in Arusha while efforts are undergoing to find host countries to receive them. Moreover, the question of victims, particularly how to find a proper way to assist and support them, through a possible Trust Fund, is yet another important matter brought to our attention by President Robinson. These are issues that we will be discussing in the framework of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals which I have the honour to chair.
Fourth, I wish to highlight and commend the efforts of the Tribunals and their staff, together with OLA in the activities conducive to the establishment of the residual mechanism. Both the Tribunals and OLA have important tasks to carry out under the framework established by resolution 1966 in order to ensure a smooth transition to the residual mechanism, in approximately one year. These are also matters that the Informal working Group on International Tribunals will follow up very closely in the months to come. I am confident of the support of all the other members of the Working Group to pursue these objectives in the most efficient way possible.
Fighting impunity, pursuing justice for the victims is crucial to prevent further crimes to occur and help foster reconciliation between peoples in the regions. The task is not only the responsibility of International Tribunals. It is also the responsibility of national authorities. They play a fundamental role to ensure that impunity is not tolerated, in particular through their resolve to address these crimes at national level. Outreach, capacity building efforts are also crucial in this regard for an enduring justice legacy. We welcome the work undertaken by the Tribunals in this vein as well and we encourage further engagement with national authorities to increase cooperation in this framework.
Good part of the debate on this agenda item, in recent years in the SC, has been centered in the completion strategy of the Tribunals.
This particular focus, relevant as it is to close part of an important cycle of international justice, shouldn’t make us forget the important role of the Tribunals for international peace and security as a whole. I would like to conclude, therefore, paying my country’s homage to the outstanding contribution made by the Tribunals and their staff – represented here by both their Presidents and Prosecutors - to the international criminal justice system, to the prevention of crimes, setting an example and paving the way for the establishment of other tribunals, in particular the International Criminal Court.