International Criminal Tribunals
Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council will hold its semi-annual debate on the ad hoc international criminal tribunals. The presidents and prosecutors of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) are expected to brief the Council.
The ICTY President, Theodor Meron, will also brief the Council as President of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, established to complete the work of the Tribunals. The ICTR Prosecutor, Hassan Bubacar Jallow, will also brief the Council as Prosecutor of the Residual Mechanism.
The Council’s Informal Working Group on International Tribunals may meet with the presidents and prosecutors prior to their appearance at the Council.
Key Recent Developments
In April, the Council adopted resolution 2150, on the prevention and fight against genocide, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda (S/PV.7155). Calling on all states to prevent and fight against genocide and other serious crimes under international law, the resolution reaffirms the principle of the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity and emphasises the important role that the ICTR has played in this respect. It further calls on states to cooperate with the ICTR and notes with concern that nine fugitives indicted by the ICTR are still at large.
Since the beginning of the year, the ICTY Appeals Chamber has issued two judgments. Nikola Šainović, Nebojša Pavković, Vladimir Lazarević and Sreten Lukić were convicted in relation to a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was to forcibly displace the Kosovo Albanian population both within and outside of Kosovo through a widespread and systematic campaign of terror and violence. Šainović was the deputy prime minister of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia; Pavković and Lazarević were army commanders; and Lukić was the head of the interior ministry staff of the Republic of Serbia in Priština. Following its acceptance of some of their arguments on appeal, the Appeals Chamber granted a limited reduction in the sentences imposed on Šainović, Lazarević and Lukić on 23 January.
In the case of Vlastimir Đorđević, the assistant to the Serbian interior minister who was convicted of various crimes against humanity and war crimes related to his participation in the joint criminal enterprise, the Appeals Chamber reduced his prison sentence from 27 years to 18 years on 27 January, following an overturn of some of his convictions.
On 11 February, the ICTR Appeals Chamber reversed the convictions of Augustin Ndindiliyimana and François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and shortened the prison sentence of Innocent Sagahutu from 20 years to 15 years. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Sagahutu’s criminal responsibility for aiding and abetting and as a superior in relation to the killing of at least two Belgian peacekeepers on 7 April 1994, but it reversed the Trial Chamber’s finding that he had ordered the killings. Nzuwonemeye was acquitted of responsibility as a superior officer for that event, and Ndindiliyimana was acquitted of responsibility as a superior for other events related to the genocide.
A long-standing issue with respect to the ICTR is the status of nine people who were acquitted and two convicted individuals who have served their sentences. All 11 are without identity documents, proper immigration status or any means of survival, and they continue to reside near the Tribunal in Arusha. The ICTR’s recent report states that despite two Council resolutions calling upon states to assist in this matter, none have offered such assistance. The ICTR once again calls in the report for the urgent assistance of the Council to find a solution to this issue.
With respect to the nine remaining ICTR fugitives, the Tribunal decided to transfer six of these cases to courts in Rwanda for trial, and the remaining three, when apprehended, will be tried by the Residual Mechanism.
The Informal Working Group on International Tribunals last met in December 2013.
The main issue for the Council is the continuing review by the working group of the ICTY’s and ICTR’s completion strategies.
The Tribunals are now expected to complete their case load after the initial timeframe envisioned when the Council adopted resolution 1966 on 22 December 2010. The ICTY in particular sees completion as late as 2017, which has led to criticism by Russia of its effectiveness and a call for an independent review of its workload. Russia is also critical of the ICTY’s jurisprudence, claiming that it has not done justice on behalf of Serbian victims of the Yugoslav conflict. The Russian position has in the past led to difficulties with respect to the extension of ICTY judges’ terms. As no such requests are expected in June, these differences should not have practical effect until such requests are expected to be made towards the end of the year.
UN DOCUMENTS ON INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS
|Security Council Resolutions|
|17 December 2012 S/RES/2081||This resolution extended the terms of 13 permanent judges of the ICTY until 31 December 2013 and the terms of eight ad litem judges for different periods of time.|
|Security Council Letters|
|16 May 2014 S/2014/350||This transmitted the report of the Residual Mechanism.|
|15 May 2014 S/2014/343||This transmitted the report of the ICTR.|
|18 November 2013 S/2013/678||ICTY assessment report.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|12 June 2013 S/PV.6977||This meeting featured briefings from the presidents and prosecutors of the ICTY and ICTR.|
Other Relevant Facts
Chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals
Cristián Barros (Chile)
Four accused on trial and 18 at the appeals stage
Nine accused at large, of which three are considered high-ranking, and 16 accused at the appeals stage