Thank you, Mr. President. Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, on assuming the presidency of the Council in December and assuring you of my delegation’s full cooperation during this busy month. Let me also thank Ambassador Mayr-Harding and the delegation of Austria for their excellent stewardship of the Council last month.
I would like to welcome the Tribunal Presidents and Prosecutors back to the Council and thank them for their assessments. The United States commends the representatives and staff of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for their work to bring the perpetrators of some of the world's most heinous crimes to justice. We particularly appreciate the efforts of ICTR President Byron and ICTY President Robinson, Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow and Registrars Dieng and Hocking. We salute their continued dedication to the cause of justice as they prepare for the closure of the Tribunals. An efficient closure that continues to support the victims and ensures that they receive a measure of justice for these crimes will require difficult, dedicated work.
Mr. President, the United States believes it is important to create a residual mechanism to manage the necessary functions of the Tribunals after the completion of their pending trials and appeals. We thank the Secretary-General for his report on the administrative and budgetary aspects of such a mechanism, which will help decision-makers develop an effective, cost-efficient one. We urge both Tribunals to continue to strive to complete their work by the earliest possible date, and we thank the Security Council Working Group chaired by Austria for its efforts to address and resolve residual issues.
Mr. President, we must remember why the tribunals were established - to identify and hold accountable those responsible for some of history's worst crimes. We must not lose sight of the historic importance of this task, and we must work to establish residual mechanisms that do not allow the 13 outstanding ICTY and ICTR fugitives to escape justice.
Individuals indicted by the Tribunals who remain at large must be apprehended and brought to justice without further delay. We call on all states to fulfill their legal obligations to cooperate with the Tribunals and to take the necessary steps to ensure that the remaining fugitives are apprehended.
In particular, let me underscore the need to reinforce efforts to bring the ICTR fugitive Felicien Kabuga to face international justice. We are concerned that the Government of Kenya has not responded to the Tribunal's requests for certain government records relating to Kabuga's assets and has not provided details to support the claim that Kabuga has left Kenya. We urge Kenya to act immediately on the Tribunal's recommendations and to take effective steps to deny Kabuga access to his support networks.
The United States acknowledges Rwanda's desire to receive transferred cases from the ICTR. We commend the Prosecutor's support for that effort, as well as the work by the Rwandan government and others to build up capacity in the Rwandan legal system to make such transfers possible. We welcome the transfer last month of eight individuals convicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone to Mpanga prison in Rwanda—an achievement that highlights Rwanda's growing capacity and commitment to meeting international standards. The ICTR’s ability to transfer cases to Rwanda and other states as appropriate is a critical step toward meeting the Tribunal's completion strategy.
Mr. President, the United States commends states' efforts to cooperate with the ICTY, but vital duties remain unmet. The two remaining fugitives Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic must be arrested and transferred to the Tribunal to face justice.
Cooperation with the ICTY remains a fundamental obligation for all states in the region. We commend the Government of Serbia for its improved cooperation, and we urge it to continue to do everything in its power to locate, arrest, and transfer Mladic to the Tribunal. The arrests of Mladic and Hadzic are important for the successful completion of ICTY's mandate, for Serbia's full Euro-Atlantic integration, and for the cause of justice and accountability.
Regarding Croatia, we welcome Croatia’s efforts to respond to the Trial Chamber's September 2008 order to deliver artillery documentation from Operation Storm or engage in a credible investigation into its fate. We believe that the Government of Croatia's latest, ongoing investigation and establishment of a Task Force are significant steps forward in Croatia's cooperation with the ICTY. At the same time, we encourage the Croatian authorities to explore additional measures, such as using outside expertise and more aggressive investigative techniques that might help recover additional documents.
Mr. President, Bosnia-Herzegovina has made great strides to cooperate with the Tribunal and ICTY has done a commendable job in supporting the development of domestic courts. But last month the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina informed us that domestic war crimes prosecutions and reform of the justice sector have suffered due to the inability of leaders to reach political decisions that advance national goals. We note the critically important work that international judges are doing in that country and support the extension of their mandates beyond December. International judges and prosecutors have worked tirelessly to bring justice to the victims, regardless of ethnicity.
Mr. President, let me again thank the Presidents, Prosecutors, Registrars, and Tribunal staffs for their dedication. Their work remains critically important to the fight against impunity and for stability and reconciliation in the regions involved.
Thank you Mr. President.
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