FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thank you Mr. President.
Let me join others in congratulating you on assuming the presidency of the Council this month. You can be assured that you will have the full cooperation of the United States. I would also like to thank Ambassador Churkin and the delegation of the Russian Federation for their skillful stewardship of the Council in the month of May.
Presidents Robinson and Byron, Prosecutors Brammertz and Fallow, I welcome you to the Council today and thank you for your briefings. Let me commend you, the tribunals’ judges, registrars and staff for their dedication to justice.
We also note the importance of the UN Working Group on Criminal Tribunals and I would like to commend the work of its chair, Ambassador Mayr-Harding of Austria, as well as the efforts of the UN Office of the Legal Counselor.
The Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia have carried out the vital tasks of fighting impunity and creating a lasting record of atrocities not long past. We recognize the importance of drawing down the tribunals smoothly and efficiently. We applaud the work the Tribunals have done thus far to create a durable residual mechanism, and we urge both Tribunals to continue to strive to complete their work at the earliest possible date.
The goal of completion of trials by 2008 has not been met, but we recognize that efforts are underway to increase efficiency and wrap up the work through the use of ad litem judges, extensions, and the redeployment of trial judges to the appeals chamber. My government supports these initiatives. We believe that the Tribunals’ requests to extend the terms of judges should be honored by the Security Council at least through the upcoming biennium.
Those indicted by the Tribunals for committing some of history’s worst crimes should not be allowed to escape justice. We must search vigilantly for the 15 indicted individuals who remain at large. The United States calls on all states to fulfil their legal obligations to fully cooperate with the Tribunals.
So let me pass on our concern about reports that a fugitive from the Rwanda Tribunal, Felicien Kabuga, is at large in Kenya. We are particularly troubled by the Tribunal Prosecutor’s assessment that the Government of Kenya has not complied with requests set out in March 2009, including calls for government records about Kabuga’s assets and details of the Kenyan government’s claim that Kabuga has left the country. The United States calls on the Government of Kenya to act immediately on the Tribunal’s recommendations and take additional steps to deny Kabuga access to his networks of support.
Mr. President, the United States understands the Government of Rwanda’s desire to receive transfer cases from the ICTR. We appreciate the Tribunal Prosecutor’s support for that effort, and we commend the work done by Rwanda and other countries to build up the capacity the Rwandan legal system needs to make such transfers possible.
Ensuring that the Tribunal can transfer cases to Rwanda and other states as appropriate is an important step toward fulfilling the Tribunal’s strategy for completing its work. The Tribunal transferred information on some of its Rwandan Patriotic Front investigations to Rwanda’s domestic courts in June 2008, and four RPF officers faced trial. We ask the Tribunal to share whether it expects any further cases that deal with the RPF.
Regarding the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, we once again call on all states to cooperate fully with its work. We recognize Government of Serbia’s efforts to apprehend and transfer those indicted by the Tribunal—including the capture of Radovan Karadzic last July. The United States calls on Serbia to do everything in its power to locate, arrest, and transfer the two remaining fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic . The arrest of these last two fugitives is crucial to complete the Tribunal’s mandate.
We also recognize Croatia’s efforts to fulfil its obligations to cooperate with the Tribunal. The Government of Croatia has facilitated the arrests of all Croatian suspects and has established a solid record of cooperation with the Tribunal. We urge Croatia to continue this record, and we remain hopeful that there can be a swift, satisfactory resolution of the issue of the documents sought by the Tribunal Prosecutor in the Gotovina case.
Mr. President, we urge the countries of the region to continue to improve cooperation among themselves. Balkan and African states must share information better, allow the transfer of war crimes proceedings between states where appropriate, and break down the barriers that obstruct the extradition of accused war criminals. Regional cooperation is crucial to bringing such criminals to justice.
And finally, Mr. President, the United States remains committed to creating an efficient, cost-effective residual mechanism that will ensure that war criminals cannot escape justice. We thank the Presidents, Prosecutors, and Registrars and their staffs for their work to fight against undeserved impunity. And we urge this Council and the parties to work vigorously together to fulfill the demands of justice and create an enduring record of crimes that we dare not forget.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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