I thank the Presidents of the Tribunals and Prosecutors for their very useful and comprehensive briefings.
Allow me a special word to congratulate Judge Joensen for his recent election as President of the ICTR. Allow me also to extend our congratulations, through the President of the Residual Mechanism, Judge Meron, to the elected judges of the residual mechanism, recently sworn in.
We wish to commend, first of all, the Presidents of the tribunals and the Prosecutors for their efforts in keeping the judicial work on track, in line with the estimates of the completion strategy. Our appreciation goes also to the judges and staff of the Tribunals for their hard work to conclude the judicial activity within the time frame established by the Council in its resolution 1966.
The reports of the Tribunals and the briefings here today reflect the concrete progress made so far. They highlight the fact that practical measures - such as using ad litem judges for the trial of contempt cases recently put in practice - can produce indeed considerable results in terms of speeding up the judicial activity concerning the principal cases.
We encourage therefore the Presidents of the Tribunals to continue to actively identify possible ways of further promoting the better use of resources with the view to improving the management of time devoted to the cases, while naturally keeping fully with the required principles of Justice.
We understand that, as we approach the time the Tribunals will close doors, more difficult such management becomes. Indeed, both Tribunals continue to share a grave concern for reasons of staff attrition and recruitment difficulties; Creative, realistic and cost-effective solutions to this issue need to be found and implemented as a matter of urgency; We note some positive developments in this regard – the waiver of the six month rule for application for professional posts, for instance - which facilitated the contracting of new personnel. The particular nature of the Tribunals, which struggle to abide by trial deadlines while keeping with the process of discontinuing all court activity, require indeed a distinct and more flexible interpretation of the general administrative UN norms.
We encourage therefore flexibility by the Secretariat as well as creativity by the tribunals.
In short, Mr President, we wish to recognize the Tribunals for their hard work in discharging their invaluable role in ensuring accountability for the worst crimes, in the most professional way while under difficult circumstances;
Both Tribunals have also made valuable contributions to the setting up of the Residual Mechanism, which we would like to recognize. They have contributed to the ongoing drafting process of the Mechanism’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, preparation of its budget leading to its recent adoption and other required activities;
I wish to commend the Tribunals and the Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) for their contribution to this rather complex process aiming at enabling the residual mechanism to start performing fully its functions from day one, that is, from 1st July 2012.
At this stage we would like to highlight three aspects that continue to be of concern to us:
First on cooperation: we can never overstate the importance of cooperation with the Tribunals. While we welcome the fact that there are no outstanding fugitives in the ICTY and the generally satisfactory assessment on cooperation, clouded with some concern by the ICTY Prosecutor in his report, and stressed here today, we wish to turn to the ICTR and highlight the need to locate and arrest the remaining fugitives being searched by the Tribunal: in this respect, we urge the continuation of the efforts by the states concerned to facilitate the arrest of those fugitives to be presented to this Tribunal and allow justice to be fulfilled;
Second, as mentioned before, as we approach the end of the Tribunals’ work and bearing in mind the projected number of convictions, we have to be prepared for the increasing number of requests by the Tribunals addressed to States to host convicted persons to serve their sentences and the need to find appropriate and prompt responses to such requests.
Finally, we need to encourage definitive solutions to address the singular situation of those acquitted persons, and those released after serving their sentences – yet again referred by the President of ICTR. They remain still today under protective measures in safe houses in Arusha, because they can neither safely return to their communities, nor find host countries willing or able to accept them. This is an unsustainable situation with human rights implications and a prompt solution must be found to it.
In conclusion, Portugal wishes to congratulate the Presidents, Prosecutors and staff of the two Tribunals for their work. They are laying the groundwork for the future: they are helping to set up the Residual Mechanism and assisting the countries of the respective regions – their judicial authorities and their civil societies – to take over the vital task of fighting impunity for the gravest crimes.