International Criminal Tribunals
Expected Council Action
In December, the Security Council is scheduled to hold its semi-annual debate on the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT), which was established in 2010 to carry out the remaining essential functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) after their respective closures. The IRMCT’s president, Judge Carmel Agius, and its prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, are expected to brief during the debate and to meet with the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals prior to that.
Key Recent Developments
The IRMCT—with branches in The Hague, Netherlands, and in Arusha, Tanzania—focuses on the completion of trials and appeals from the ICTY, which closed in December 2017, and the ICTR, which closed in December 2015. Its tasks include locating and arresting the remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR—of the 93 persons indicted by the ICTR, six remain at large—and assisting national jurisdictions in handling requests related to prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
The Council most recently extended the IRMCT’s operating period and Brammertz’s term until 30 June 2022 with the adoption of resolution 2529 on 25 June 2020. The resolution requested the IRMCT to continue to take steps to enhance efficient, effective and transparent management, including clear and focused projections of completion timelines. The resolution also stressed the need for continued efforts to ensure geographic diversity and gender balance of staff and to reduce costs by using flexible staff engagement.
The IRMCT delivered three landmark judgements in June. On 8 June, the Appeals Chamber of the IRMCT delivered its judgement in the appeals filed by Ratko Mladić and the prosecution against the 22 November 2017 judgement by a Trial Chamber of the ICTY. The Appeals Chamber dismissed Mladić’s appeal and affirmed his convictions for genocide, persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, and other inhumane acts consisting in forcible transfer as crimes against humanity and for murder, terror, unlawful attacks on civilians, and hostage-taking as violations of the laws or customs of war. It also dismissed the prosecution’s appeal and affirmed the Trial Chamber’s finding that Mladić was not guilty of genocide in relation to crimes committed in certain municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Appeals Chamber affirmed Mladić’s sentence of life imprisonment, imposed by the Trial Chamber.
On 25 June, judgement was delivered in the contempt case of Prosecutor v. Anselme Nzabonimpa et al. (formerly Turinabo et al.), convicting Augustin Ngirabatware, Anselme Nzabonimpa, Jean de Dieu Ndagijimana, and Marie Rose Fatuma of contempt for witness interference. Ngirabatware was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. Nzabonimpa, Ndagijimana and Fatuma were sentenced to time served, having spent over 11 months in pre-trial detention.
On 30 June, the Trial Chamber of the IRMCT delivered its judgement in the case of Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, finding them responsible for aiding and abetting the crime of murder, as a violation of the laws or customs of war and a crime against humanity, and the crimes of deportation, forcible transfer, and persecution, as crimes against humanity, committed by Serb forces following the takeover of Bosanski Šamac in April 1992. They were each sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment.
At the time of writing, the judicial workload of the IRMCT consisted of the case of Prosecutor v. Félicien Kabuga, in which pre-trial preparations are underway, and the Stanišić and Simatović and Nzabonimpa et al. cases, which have moved into the appeals phase since the respective judgements on 25 and 30 June.
Agius and Brammertz briefed the Council during its last semi-annual debate on the IRMCT on 8 June. Agius said that the 8 June Mladić judgement was “another tremendous step towards the finalization of [the IRMCT’s] core judicial work”, adding that the case “is also a testament to what can be achieved through international justice processes when States have the will to cooperate and overcome geopolitical roadblocks”.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is for members to continue monitoring the work of the IRMCT and the implementation of its mandate, including the areas specified in resolution 2529.
Council members generally have a positive assessment of the IRMCT and the progress it has made, with the exception of Russia, which has been consistently critical of the ICTY. Russia has also been critical of the appointment of Brammertz, who was the prosecutor of the ICTY from 2008 until its closure in 2017, and it abstained on previous resolutions appointing him in 2016 and 2018. At the most recent semi-annual debate, Russia expressed strong criticism of the appeal judgement in the Mladić case.
Viet Nam is the chair of the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals.
UN DOCUMENTS ON INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNALS
|Security Council Resolution|
|25 June 2020S/RES/2529||This was a resolution extending IRMCT prosecutor Serge Brammertz’s term until 30 June 2022.|
|Security Council Letter|
|17 May 2020S/2021/487||The letter transmitted the bi-annual assessments of the president and prosecutor on the IRMCT.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|8 June 2021S/PV.8790||This was the semi-annual debate held on the work of the IRMCT.|