June 2022 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2022
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International Criminal Tribunals

Expected Council Action

In June, 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. A resolution extending the term of the prosecutor and the operating period of the IRMCT, both of which expire on 30 June, is expected to be adopted.

Key Recent Developments

The IRMCT—with branches in The Hague, Netherlands, and 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, four remain at large as at 18 May—and assisting national jurisdictions in handling requests related to prosecuting international crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

On 12 May, the IRMCT Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) confirmed the death of Protais Mpiranya, one of the remaining fugitives indicted by the ICTR in 2000 who was alleged to have been a senior leader of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The OTP press release said that “following a challenging and intensive investigation, the OTP has determined that Mpiranya died on 5 October 2006 in Harare, Zimbabwe”. On 18 May, the OTP confirmed the death of Phénéas Munyarugarama, another remaining fugitive indicted by the ICTR. Munyarugarama, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Forces Armées Rwandaises, was first indicted by the ICTR in 2002 for genocide, direct and public incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity. The press release said that “following a comprehensive and challenging investigation, the OTP was able to conclude that Munyarugarama died from natural causes on or about 28 February 2002 in Kankwala, in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he was also buried”.

Under resolution 1966, the IRMCT was mandated to operate for an initial period of four years and for subsequent periods of two years thereafter unless the Security Council decided otherwise. The Council most recently extended the IRMCT’s operating period and Brammertz’s term until 30 June with the adoption of resolution 2529 on 25 June 2020. It was adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (Russia). The resolution requested the IRMCT to continue to take steps to enhance efficiency and effective and transparent management, including the production of clear and focused projections of completion timelines; to ensure geographic diversity and gender balance of staff; and to further reduce costs, such as through flexible staff engagement. It also requested that the IRMCT update the Council in its semi-annual reports on progress in implementing the resolution, with detailed information on staffing, workload and related costs, and detailed projections of the duration of residual functions.

At the time of writing, the judicial workload of the IRMCT consisted of three cases: Prosecutor v. Félicien Kabuga, which remains in the pre-trial phase because of the health of the accused; Stanišić and Simatović; and Fatuma et al. (formerly Nzabonimpa et al.). The Stanišić and Simatović and the Fatuma et al. cases have moved into the appeals phase since the respective judgements on 25 and 30 June 2021.

Agius and Brammertz briefed the Council during its last semi-annual debate on the IRMCT on 13 December 2021. Agius noted that while the IRMCT continues its various mandated functions, the decrease in its active caseload “is significant…because reductions in staffing and resources are a necessary consequence of the conclusion of key activities, owing to the Mechanism’s nature as a downsizing and temporary institution”. Brammertz highlighted that “we are continuing our efforts to complete our remaining trials and appeals, which remains our first strategic priority”. He also emphasised that South Africa has failed to arrest and provide critical information on the fugitive Fulgence Kayishema, referring to this as “among the most severe instances of non-cooperation my Office has faced since the Mechanism’s establishment”.

Key Issues and Options

An immediate issue for Council members is to adopt a resolution appointing a prosecutor of the IRMCT as the term of the current prosecutor expires on 30 June.

A key issue is for members to continue monitoring the work of the IRMCT and the implementation of its mandate.

Council Dynamics

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 ICTY prosecutor from 2008 until its closure in 2017, and it abstained on previous resolutions re-appointing him in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

It seems that the negotiations on resolution 2529, which extended Brammertz’s term until 30 June, were lengthy and difficult. (For more, see our What’s in Blue story of 25 June 2020.) In explaining its abstention on resolution 2529, Russia referred to “the unsatisfactory work of that body, which continues not to allow the Council to proceed with its legal closure”. Russia also emphasised the importance of the protection of detainees of the Mechanism, including their access to medical care, specifically referring to the case of Ratko Mladić. It added that the IRMCT must produce “clear and focused projections of completion timelines at the earliest stage possible and disciplined adherence thereto”, as set out in resolution 2529.

At the last semi-annual debate on 13 December 2021, Russia said that “there is no sign that the IRMCT is winding down” and called for “a plan for how the Court will be brought to a close”.

Ambassador Michel Xavier Biang (Gabon) chairs the Informal Working Group on International Tribunals.

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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
16 November 2021S/2021/955 This transmitted the bi-annual assessments of the IRMCT by the president and prosecutor.
Security Council Meeting Record
13 December 2021S/PV.8927 This was the semi-annual debate on the work of the IRMCT.

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