UN Security Council debate on ICTY/ICTR

Stalni predstavnik Republike Hrvatske pri Ujedinjenim narodima veleposlanik Ranko Vilovic održao je govor na javnoj raspravi Vijeca sigurnosti UN-a o periodicnom izvješcu predsjednika Medunarodnog kaznenog suda za bivšu Jugoslaviju i Medunarodnog kaznenog suda za Ruandu, koje ukljucuje i izvješca glavnih tužitelja navedenih sudova.

Allow me at the outset to congratulate you, Mr. President, on the assumption of the presidency of the Security Council for this month and to express our confidence that under your able guidance, the Council will successfully undertake its many duties and responsibilities during the coming month. At the same time, let me extend my appreciation to Presidents Robinson and Byron, as well as Prosecutors Brammertz and Jallow, for their detailed reports on the work of the Tribunals, as well as on the progress and challenges in implementing of their Completion Strategy. Furthermore, we welcome the newly elected Judge Khalida Rachid Khan as President of the UNICTR and express our full confidence in her ability to successfully master the tremendous tasks in front of her. Mr. President, Croatia recognizes efforts by the Tribunals' to implement the previously elaborated strategy for finalization of their work and their transformation towards residual mechanisms. Croatia actively participated in the creation of the Mechanism and looks forward to its future work aimed at helping safeguard the Tribunals' legacy and successfully fulfill their residual functions, in particular regarding the processing of remaining fugitives, archives management, witnesses protection and serving of sentences. At the same time, we are aware of the many challenges faced by the Tribunals, and we firmly believe that their widely recognized legitimate objectives should not be pursued at the expense of the mandate under which they were established, nor should they compromise full respect for due process standards. The Tribunals' mandate cannot not be considered accomplished without bringing to justice all remaining fugitives accused of the gravest crimes. In this context, Croatia welcomes the fact that Serbia located, arrested and transferred to The Hague Ratko Mladic, indicted for the worst atrocities committed after Second World War, primarily in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also remember here the victims of the war crimes committed against the civilian population in Croatia, in particular in škabrnja, Zadar, šibenik, Kijevo, Vrlika, Sinj and other towns attacked by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) under orders of Ratko Mladic while he was commander of the 9th Corps of the JNA based in Knin, Croatia, as well as his orders to launch indiscriminate attacks against civilian objects, knowing that such attacks will cause excessive loss of life or injury to civilians, in particular his attempt of flooding a large populated area by destroying the Peruca Dam. Justice needs to be served in these cases as well. In this sense, we would regret if Ratko Mladic would not be prosecuted in The Hague for the crimes committed in Croatia. The arrest of Ratko Mladic, however, raises hope that Goran Hadžic, the last remaining fugitive indicted by the ICTY for grave atrocities in Croatia, will too, soon, be rendered accountable before the ICTY. Mr. President, Croatia remains strongly committed to its cooperation with the Tribunal. This unequivocal cooperation is clearly confirmed by the latest Prosecutor's assessment according to which “Croatia continues to respond in a timely and adequate manner to the OTP's requests for assistance and provides access to witnesses and evidence as required“. The Special Task Force, established by Croatian Prime Minister Kosor continues to actively pursue its investigations. During the reporting period the Task Force produced three reports on current operations, and a separate report summarizing all its activities and findings to date. Let me add that the Task Force's professionalism and competence have also been duly noted and recognized by the Prosecutor in his previous report. Mr. President, As regards “the missing documents (that are still) unaccounted for”, as stated in the Prosecutor's report, let me recall the conclusion of the Trial Chamber I of 26 July 2010 in which the Chamber, after expressly recognizing Croatia's proactive cooperation with the Tribunal, also pointed out that uncertainties regarding the creation of the documents, as well as their continued existence or accessibility to Croatia, have prevented Croatia from locating and delivering the requested documents. In its summarizing report, the Task Force has also provided its professional assessment about the fate of the missing documents. Although Trial Chamber I denied the Prosecution's motion to order Croatia to produce the aforementioned documents or information, in full respect of the Court's decision, Croatia went on with its investigation in this matter and is strongly committed to continue to undertake all reasonable and feasible measures at its disposal. Mr. President, Over the reporting period, Croatian officials at the highest level remained engaged in direct and open dialogue with the Tribunal and the Prosecutor who visited Zagreb on 4 May and met with the Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, State Prosecutor and members of the Task Force. Furthermore, Croatian judges and prosecutors participated in peer-to-peer meetings and training sessions aimed at transferring the Tribunal's institutional knowledge and specialized skills to Croatian colleagues, as well as enhancing national capacities and strengthening national institutions. In addition, Croatia welcomes the Tribunal's efforts focused on increasing national capabilities to handle complex war crime trials by providing trial transcripts produced in local languages to the countries of the region. In that context, let me also mention the Fifth Regional Conference of the State Prosecutors hosted by the State Prosecutor of Croatia, with the participation of the ICTY Prosecutor Mr. Brammertz, as well as Prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and the War Crimes Prosecutor of Serbia, held on 26 and 27 May at Brijuni. The main goal of the conference was to further discuss cooperation in war crimes cases between prosecution offices from the region, the cooperation between the OTP and national prosecutions, as well as concrete cooperation projects to facilitate the exchange of information related to war crimes cases. In conclusion, Mr. President, let me reiterate that Croatia continues to fully cooperate with the ICTY. Croatia is convinced that cooperation of UN members, especially those from South East Europe, remains crucial for the successful accomplishment of the ICTY's mandate, as well as for meeting its completion strategy goals. War crimes are not subject to statute of limitations, which is why regional cooperation and establishing impartiality of national courts in all the countries in the region – even after the ICTY lifetime – is so important. Determined to implement the Strategy for the investigation and prosecution of war crimes committed from 1991 to 1995, Croatia has introduced measures to reinforce and expand the positive impact of the four existing specialized war crimes courts. With the view to speed up domestic trials, it has furthermore enabled that the evidence collected by the bodies of the ICTY is used by the domestic courts. Furthermore, and in the context of recently rendered first instance judgement in the Gotovina et al. case, allow me briefly to express a few additional remarks: 1. First of all, let me stress Croatia's strongest determination to fully respect any verdict rendered by the ICTY. 2. Croatia particularly noticed the fact that the aforementioned judgement explicitly stated that, and I quote, “Croatia's choice to resort to Operation Storm was not on trial”, end of quote, and, consequently, that Homeland War is not criminalized. 3. Since this Council represents a political body par excellence, we do not have any intention to discuss legal aspects of the aforementioned judgement. That discussion will continue in The Hague, between relevant parties. At the same time, I have to underline that we respectfully but strongly disagree with some of its historical and political qualifications. Yet, Mr. President, let me also stress here that both President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor clearly stated, immediately after the first instance sentence was rendered, that Croatia is a democratic state based on the rule of law, where judicial institutions are respected and their verdicts adhered to. Full cooperation with ICTY and respect of international justice is a lasting commitment, not only in the context of our Euro-Atlantic integration processes, but as a determination of Croatia's core values and its present and future role in the international community as a UN, NATO and soon EU member. In that sense, let me reassure you, Mr. President, that Croatia will ensure that the parameters for legitimate military action, derived from the ICTY judgment and which present new jurisprudence in international law, are fully considered and respected while making decisions at the national level, as well as in bodies of collective defense and security. 4. Croatia strongly supports Tribunal's main purpose and primary functions, which are, according to relevant SC resolutions - establishment of a lasting peace and reconciliation. Constructive reactions of all relevant political actors in Croatia after the judgement in Gotovina et al. case was rendered, clearly testifies of our determination in that regard. Our sympathy lies with the victims, regardless of their nationality or religion. Our allegiance is with the truth and the consequent punishment of all war crimes, regardless of the nationality or religion of their perpetrators. Our hope is that peace based on justice is possible and will be advanced by our joint endeavours. Thank you, Mr. President.