UN Security Council Debate on ICTY/ICTR

Stalni predstavnik RH pri Ujedinjenim narodima, veleposlanik Neven Jurica, održao je govor u Vijecu sigurnosti UN-a na raspravi o Medunarodnim kaznenim sudovima za bivšu Jugoslaviju i Ruandu.

STATEMENT BY Ambassador Neven Jurica, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 and International Tribunal for Rwanda New York, 4 June 2008 I would like to welcome the Presidents of the ICTY and the ICTR, Judge Pocar and Judge Byron, as well as the Prosecutors, Mr. Brammertz and Mr. Jallow and thank them for their respective reports. The establishment of these two tribunals by the Security Council 15 years ago has been one of the defining moments in the development of the international criminal justice. Croatia has been one of the early proponents of their establishment, having been directly affected by the most painful experience of war crimes committed by the aggressors against its citizens in the early 1990-s. Today, as the Tribunals' mandates are drawing nearer to a completion date, we can say that many of the goals for which they were established have been largely accomplished. However, before the we can confidently state that their mandates have been completed, the international community has to make sure that every effort has been made to bring those most responsible to justice, however long this takes. We have listened attentively to the reports presented to the Council by the representatives of the two Tribunals. We welcome their commitment to ensure that every measure is taken to expedite the work of the Tribunals and to implement their respective Completion strategies at an early date. As part of this exit strategy, the Council will have to take decisions on certain mechanisms the existence of which will be necessary even as the present trials are concluded, in order to ensure the continuation of a certain number of essential residual functions. Croatia will continue to engage in these discussions with a view to a timely articulation of such mechanisms. In this respect, I would like to point out two things, related to the legacy of the ICTY in particular: First, it is crucial that the Council, when addressing the residual mechanisms, makes it clear that the core mandate of the Tribunals should not be compromised. It is therefore essential that fugitives face trial. In case of the ICTY, that means that all four remaining fugitives, that is Radovan Karadžic, Ratko Mladic, Goran Hadžic and Stojan Župljanin must face international justice. Without it, the Tribunal's mandate remains unfulfilled, and its legacy incomplete. Any decision on a possible transfer of such trials to national jurisdictions may only be taken by a judicial instance. Second, the interests of the long term-legacy of the Tribunals make it imperative that optimal solutions be found for balancing the interests of the most affected countries with the interest that the international community as a whole has in preserving that legacy. The issue of archives is an important element of future residual structures. Bearing in mind that their significance extends beyond judicial processes, we are looking forward to finding a solution that reconciles the interests of all stakeholders in the region, and beyond, most notably those of victims and survivors, as well as those pertinent to ongoing or future trials. As stated on many occasions, Croatia firmly believes that one of the most important determinants for the long-term legacy of the Tribunals is to ensure that it has been embraced by the countries under its jurisdiction. This is why the active involvement of national jurisdictions in the prosecution of war crimes is important: not only does it add to the effective exit strategy, but it also demonstrates national ownership The Croatian judiciary has clearly demonstrated its ability to conduct trials of even the most sensitive cases, including the one case that was transferred to it by the ICTY. Within the framework of the Tribunal's exit strategy Croatia stands ready to take over any other remaining cases involving Croatian citizens or committed in Croatia. Croatia is furthermore ready to take up responsibility for the residual functions related to the serving of sentences and is interested in concluding an agreement to that end with the ICTY, so that sentenced persons who so wish may serve their sentences in Croatia. As stated before, we think that the directions guiding current practice are obsolete as the circumstances have changed substantially since the inception of the Tribunal, thereby justifying the serving of sentences in the country where the crimes were committed, as is already the case with the sentences delivered by the Rwanda Tribunal. We see no reason to continue the discrepancy in the practices between the two tribunals. Mr. President, now a few words as well as precise information on recent developments and cooperation for the record. Croatia is and will remain actively engaged in supporting the work of the Tribunal, including by providing documents and information necessary for the preparation and conduct of trials. Over the past year the Croatian authorities have developed an excellent working relationship with the ICTY Prosecution. Croatia also has a prominent role in advancing regional cooperation in war crimes trials. We have taken note of today's remarks by the Prosecutor. We see no grounds to question what has previously been described as a “generally satisfactory” level of cooperation, as the readiness of the Croatian authorities to engage in regional and international cooperation on war crimes trials remains exemplary and the extensive working relationship developed between the relevant Croatian authorities and Tribunal representatives has in no way subsided over the past reporting period. The Prosecution has been given full access to the State Archives, including those of the Ministry of Defense. So far, more than 19.000 documents have been handed over to the Prosecution, including those emanating from the highest ranking military officials. Close to 800 assistance requests have been received so far, out of which only a single one remains partially unfulfilled. That outstanding “Request 739” has been given full attention by the our authorities and the ICTY has already received extensive documentation (1,833 documents) pertinent to the request, and we are conducting several internal investigations with a view to ascertaining the possible existence of further documentation sought by the Prosecution. The Prosecution has been regularly updated on these activities and every effort has been made to bring them to a prompt conclusion. Croatia continues to believe that justice is an essential prerequisite for a lasting peace and attaches great importance to the fair and effective trial of all perpetrators of war crimes. However, the failure to establish individual criminal accountability undermines that goal and risks to undermine the long-term legacy of the Tribunals. Last fall, the judgment delivered by the Tribunal in the Case of the “Vukovar Three” provoked strong reactions in Croatia and beyond, particularly among the victims' families and associations. We took note of the appeals by the Prosecution in the Mrkšic and šljivancanin case. However, it is difficult to comprehend why no appeals have been filed in the case of the acquitted Miroslav Radic, the third participant in this massive crime where, among other things more than 260 persons were summarily executed. We continue to hope that the appellate judgment in the Vukovar case will render justice that can stand the test of time. Let me conclude, Mr. President, by quoting the Prime Minister of Croatia, H.E. Mr. Ivo Sanader, who addressed the General Assembly on this issue last fall: “The issue of war crimes' punishment relates to the responsibility in a broader sense. It relates to the responsibility of the international community to ensure effectiveness in preventing conflicts and protecting and promoting human rights, humanitarian law and the rule of law in general.” And it is precisely for this reason that the Tribunal was established in 1993. Prime Minister Sanader added that „a just outcome of the prosecutions is the only way to discourage those who today, or might in the future, consider repeating such crimes. Just punishment is the best deterrent. Just punishment must also be a measure of respect for the victims. Just punishment must also serve truth and open the way to lasting peace, security and reconciliation“. Thank you, Mr. President.