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. ICTY President Theodor Meron will also brief the Council as President of the Residual Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, as will ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow as the Residual Mechanism’s Prosecutor.
The Informal Working Group on International Tribunals may meet with the Presidents and Prosecutors prior to their appearance at the Council.
Key Recent Developments
The Residual Mechanism established in 2010, by resolution 1966, has been mandated to complete the work of the tribunals by assuming responsibility for their essential functions through two branches, the successor to ICTR in Arusha and the successor to ICTY in the Hague. The two branches were inaugurated in July 2012 and July 2013, respectively. Resolution 1966 stipulated that all remaining work by the tribunals should be completed no later than 31 December 2014, to prepare their closure and to ensure a smooth transition to the Residual Mechanism. On 18 December 2014, in light of the ongoing activity in both tribunals, the Council adopted resolutions 2193 and 2194 which extended the terms of several judges of both tribunals and reappointed the tribunals’ respective Prosecutors for one year, urging the two bodies to intensify their efforts to complete their work. Russia abstained on resolution 2193 on the ICTY.
Since the start of the year, the ICTY has concluded proceedings against six individuals, bringing the total number of concluded proceedings to 147 of the 161 persons indicted. On 8 April, the Appeals Tribunal issued its judgment in the case of Zdravko Tolimir, a former assistant commander and chief of the sector for Intelligence and Security Affairs of the main staff of the Republika Srpska army, and upheld his sentence of life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in 1995 after the fall of Srebrenica and Žepa. On 30 January, in the largest-ever trial heard by the Tribunal (in terms of the number of accused), the Appeals Chamber issued its judgment in the Popović et al. case, concerning five senior Bosnian Serbian military officials convicted of genocide and other crimes perpetrated by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, following the takeover of Srebrenica and Žepa. The Appeals Chamber affirmed two sentences of life imprisonment, one sentence of 35 years imprisonment and one sentence of 13 years imprisonment. One sentence of 19 years imprisonment was reduced to 18 years. Based on current forecasts, judgments in one trial and two appeals are expected by the end of 2015, with one trial and one appeal, in the Mladić and Prlić et al. cases, set to be concluded in 2017.
The ICTR has completed cases at the trial level for all 93 accused that have been indicted. Only one case remains concerning the appeal of six individuals, Nyiramasuhuko et al. (“Butare”), in which oral arguments were heard by the Appeals Chamber from 14 to 22 April. Judgment is expected to be delivered in August 2015. In February, the ICTR’s Office of the Prosecutor released a best-practices manual on the referral of international criminal cases to national jurisdictions for trial, which documents the Office’s experience in securing the referral of ten genocide indictments to national jurisdictions for trial—two to France and eight to Rwanda.
Meanwhile, the Residual Mechanism delivered its first appeal judgment on 18 December 2014 in the case of Augustin Ngirabatware. The ICTR issued the trial judgment on 21 February 2013, and Ngirabatware filed an appeal challenging his convictions and sentence. The Residual Mechanism affirmed his convictions for direct and public incitement to commit genocide and for instigating, aiding and abetting genocide, and sentenced Ngirabatware to 30 years of imprisonment. The Residual Mechanism continues to face two long-standing challenges. The first is to ensure that nine people indicted by the ICTR, but not yet arrested, are apprehended (the three most senior individuals are to be tried by the Residual Mechanism and the other six by Rwanda). The second challenge involves the relocation of individuals the ICTR has acquitted or released, but who are unable or afraid to return to their country of citizenship. Since 2011, the Council has called on member states to assist with their relocation. The number of acquitted persons still in Arusha was recently reduced to eight after Belgium agreed to accept one person. As of 1 January, the Residual Mechanism took over the formal responsibility for relocation.
The Presidents and Prosecutors of the ICTY and ICTR last briefed the Council on 10 December 2014. The Informal Working Group on International Tribunals also last met in December 2014 and may meet again before this month’s Council debate.
The main issue is the continuing review by the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals of the completion strategies of the ICTY and ICTR and following the work of the Residual Mechanism.
A key issue is the relocation of persons released or acquitted.
The tribunals were expected to complete their caseload by 31 December 2014, as set out in resolution 1966 in 2010. Currently, the ICTY in particular expects completion as late as 2017, which has led to repeated criticism by Russia about its effectiveness. The most recent resolutions adopted in December 2014, extended judges’ terms if the request was for one year less but the extensions to 2017 requested for eight ICTY judges and the ICTY Prosecutor were granted only to December 2015. As it did the previous year, Russia abstained from the resolution extending ICTY judges’ terms, commenting that the situation regarding the tribunal’s exit strategy had not improved and that costly trial delays continued. 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. As no requests for extending judges’ terms are expected in June, these differences should not have practical effect until the end of the year when there may be further extension requests.
During the debate, Council members are likely to focus on the respective tribunals’ completion strategies, the handover of activities to the Residual Mechanism (including the process of transferring records and archives), the need to find a satisfactory solution to the relocation of persons released or acquitted by the ICTR and the need to ensure individuals indicted by the ICTR, but not yet arrested, are apprehended.
Chile is the penholder and chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|18 December 2014 S/RES/2193||This was a resolution extending sixteen ICTY judges’ terms and reappointing the ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz until 31 December 2015, with Russia abstaining.|
|18 December 2014 S/RES/2194||This was a resolution extending two ICTR judges’ terms until 31 July 2015 and four judges’ terms until 31 December 2015 and reappointing the ICTR Prosecutor Hassan Bubacar Jallow until 31 December 2015.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|10 December 2014 S/PV.7332||This was the semi-annual debate on the ICTY and ICTR in which the presidents and prosecutors of these bodies briefed.|