Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 12, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. President Gatti Santana and Prosecutor Brammertz, thank you very much for this briefing on the ongoing work of the IRM to bring perpetrators to justice for atrocities committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
First, my delegation wants to thank President Gatti Santana for her leadership in her first six months as the President of the Mechanism. We appreciate her commitment to ensure that the remaining trial and appeal proceedings are concluded efficiently and fairly, and that the Mechanism is able to transition into a fully residual institution.
We also acknowledge that even as the work of the Mechanism comes to a close, President Gatti Santana has made it a priority to meet victims and stakeholders where they live – traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide and to Rwanda for meetings and visits of memorial sites. We must continue to place victims at the center of our efforts to promote justice for the crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, even as the Mechanism moves away from trials and appeals.
At the close of the year, we can reflect on the remarkable successes of the Mechanism in moving forward on active trials and appeals, closing the book on outstanding fugitives, and assisting national jurisdictions to prosecute international crimes.
Almost 30 years since the ICTY was established, only the appeal in Stanisic and Simatovic remains to be decided. After years of proceedings, we hope that a decision in this case will finally clarify the role of these officials in Belgrade for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
Remaining proceedings, with respect to the Rwandan genocide, are also drawing to a close. We commend the Mechanism on the opening of the trial of Félicien Kabuga who is accused of acting as the primary financier of the militia and political groups that perpetrated the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. We appreciate the efforts of the Mechanism to move as expeditiously as possible given Mr. Kabuga’s age and health, as the victims have been waiting decades for justice.
The Mechanism has also moved swiftly to address the last remaining fugitives from the ICTR. With the termination of proceedings against Protais Mprianya and Pheneas Munyarugarama, only four fugitives remain. We are pleased by South Africa’s increased cooperation with the Mechanism and call on Member States that may be harboring any of the remaining fugitives to cooperate with the investigation.
We also commend the Mechanism for finalizing the contempt verdict in the Fatuma case. We do, however, note the outstanding contempt case and lack of action with respect to defendants Jojić and Radeta, and urge Serbia to respond to the outstanding arrest warrants. Ensuring the integrity of court proceedings is essential to the administration of justice.
Finally, we are grateful to the thirteen countries serving as enforcement states. Holding persons who have been convicted and ensuring that their sentences are carried out is indispensable to the operation of an international tribunal.
While the Mechanism and its predecessors have done so much to lay the groundwork for a new era of accountability, national authorities must now carry on with the important work of ensuring domestic prosecutions and promoting truth-telling, reconciliation, and healing. We strongly urge states to promptly and fully respond to all requests for cooperation.
Regrettably, as we’ve just heard from the Chief Prosecutor, we continue to confront the dangerous example of non-acceptance of historical facts. It is striking that the Prosecutor writes that in the western Balkans, the denial of crimes, non-acceptance of judicial facts, and the glorification of war criminals are “not the words and acts of the margins, but of the political and cultural centers of the region’s societies.” Some continue to deny genocide crimes that took place against Tutsis in Rwanda, as well. We know what the consequences of the normalization of hatred are and what the persecution of certain groups can lead to. We must unequivocally denounce those who seek to deny the clear historical record and nurture old grievances rather than move towards a future in which the rule of law will govern.
In conclusion, Mr. President, we welcome the Mechanism’s ongoing engagement with the affected countries to strengthen national judicial systems, as well as its efforts to promote public awareness and engagement in ongoing court proceedings, preserving and sharing court records, and other initiatives designed to inform and educate the public. This work is vital to ensuring that the Mechanism’s work will continue to have an impact long after the work in the courtroom is complete.
Thank you, Mr. President.