UN war crimes tribunals still face challenges: reports

[JURIST] Officials from the International Criminal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) [official websites] on Wednesday told [UN News Centre report] the UN Security Council [official website] that they are making progress in completing their work, but continue to face a number of challenges requiring additional support. In his dual capacity as President of the ICTY and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) [official website], Judge Theodor Meron [official profile, PDF] discussed [press release] how the complexity of the Tribunal's cases and its reliance on state cooperation with evidence requests have delayed preparation of its judgments. He estimates, though, that all appellate work will be complete by the end of 2014 with the help of the MICT, which will finish all ICTY and ICTR tasks after their mandates expire. Overall, Meron urged the Security Council to acknowledged the legacy that the ICTY will leave for human rights advocacy. This sentiment was echoed by ICTR President Vagn Joensen [official profile], who declared that the transition from the ICTR to MICT's branch in the northern Tazanian town of Arusha has allowed the tribunal to focus more on downsizing its activities in preparation for closure. Like Meron, Joensen also proffered that the ICTR's work would be complete by the end of 2014.

Since its establishment in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 people for violations of humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Similarly, since its founding in 1994 following the Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder], the ICTR has indicted 91 individuals and, thus far, finished 50 trials with 29 convictions. Earlier this month, the ICTY upheld the life sentence of Milan Lukic [JURIST report], a Bosnian Serb commander who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes that include burning more than 100 people alive during the 1992 Bosnian War. In November, the tribunal acquitted [JURIST report] former Kosovo Liberation Army commanders Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj, and Laji Brahimaj of war crimes related to abduction and torture of civilians. Also in November, the ICTY overturned the convictions [JURIST report] of two Croat generals for crimes against humanity and war crimes against Serb civilians committed during a 1995 military blitz. The ICTR, on the other hand, has been occupied with transfers. In July, the tribunal transferred four genocide convicts to the Republic of Mali [JURIST report] to serve their sentences. A month earlier, the tribunal transferred the case of Aloys Ndimbati [JURIST report], a former local government official in Rwanda who has been charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and persecution, to the authorities of the Republic of Rwanda. Earlier in the month, Bernard Munyagishari's case was the fifth to be transferred [JURIST report] to the country's court system.

 

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