Ambassador Cherith Norman Chalet
Acting Deputy Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 8, 2020
Thank you, everyone, and thank you for your briefings, President Agius and Prosecutor Brammertz. We are grateful for your hard work and unwavering commitment of the judges, attorneys, and staff in Arusha and The Hague, as well as in the field offices in Kigali and Sarajevo, in your pursuit of justice for the victims in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, always. But we are especially grateful for your work in this challenging time as we adjust our working methods due to COVID-19. I also want to extend our condolences to the staff members’ families who have passed away during this time of COVID and due to COVID.
The United States wishes to congratulate the Residual Mechanism, the Government of France, and all the other national and international bodies that collaborated to bring about the recent arrest of Rwandan businessman, Félicien Kabuga, who was indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Mr. Kabuga is alleged to be the main financier and backer of the political and militia groups that committed the Rwandan genocide, as well as the founder of the notorious Radio-Television Milles Collines.
Mr. Kabuga’s arrest after 26 years at large demonstrates the continued relevance of the Residual Mechanism and its work. We support its efforts to ensure justice is meted out for Mr. Kabuga’s alleged role in the horrific acts perpetrated in Rwanda.
We further congratulate the Residual Mechanism and its collaborators on confirming the death of the long-time fugitive Augustin Bizimana. We will continue to support the Residual Mechanism’s efforts to apprehend the remaining six Rwandans still wanted for their roles in the 1994 genocide. The United States continues to offer rewards of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of any of the remaining fugitives. We strongly urge all countries to cooperate fully with the Residual Mechanism and bring these people, wanted for some of the worst crimes in history, to justice.
As mentioned, the global pandemic has impacted every aspect of the UN’s work, and the Residual Mechanism is no different. We acknowledge that in-court proceedings have had to be delayed, and we commend your efforts to adhere to public health guidelines while doing your work. We hope the Residual Mechanism is able to proceed expeditiously with the Mladić appeal, as the conclusion of that case will be an important moment for the victims.
General Ratko Mladić served as the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army during the genocide of Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, and his forces raped women and girls, shelled and sniped the civilian population of Sarajevo, and brutalized Muslim and Croat prisoners – all with the horrifying objective of permanently removing Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory. We mention these again to reiterate the importance of the case against Mladić and the important work and we welcome that work that the Residual Mechanism is undergoing and the efforts to continue the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in adjudicating General Mladić’s responsibility for grave crimes committed during the war.
Similarly, we acknowledge progress on the retrial of Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their alleged roles in the unlawful, forcible removal of non-Serbs from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As regards the contempt proceedings in the Turinabo et al, and Jojic and Radeta cases, we note that attempts to interfere with witnesses or otherwise undermine court proceedings are a grave threat to the rule of law and must be dealt with seriously.
We also commend the Residual Mechanism’s efforts to support national judicial efforts, from the Balkans to Rwanda. These proceedings remain vital to ensure that the pursuit of justice will not end even as prosecutions at the Residual Mechanism conclude. We note Rwanda’s progress in continuing to try cases related to the genocide and urge Balkan states to improve their cooperation across national systems.
We will also strongly support the renewal of the Residual Mechanism’s mandate, which we have for consideration at this time. The work of the Residual Mechanism remains vital, relevant, and crucial for the administration of justice, as we have laid out this morning. We urge the Council to support the extension of this mandate, as its work must continue.
The Prosecutor continues to provide deeply troubling reports about the ongoing challenge of genocide denial and non-acceptance of historical truths in both Rwanda and the Balkans. We cannot bring back those whose lives were lost. But we would fail to ensure justice for them and their loved ones if we do not act forcefully when leaders seek to turn certain populations into scapegoats for society’s ills or deny historical facts.
We must re-commit to protecting the welfare of civilians during armed conflict and holding those who violate international humanitarian law accountable. The Residual Mechanism has been an important part of this work and we will continue to support its efforts on behalf of victims.