Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
June 14, 2022
Thank you, Mr. President. President Agius, Prosecutor Brammertz, thank you for your briefings on the efforts of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals to bring perpetrators to justice for the atrocities that were committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. We heard from the President this morning some of the challenges that the mechanism has faced – operational, morale, COVID, and so we are particularly grateful for the commitment and the hard work of the judges, the attorneys, the staff in Arusha and in the Hague, as well as in the field offices in Sarajevo and Kigali, despite these challenges over the past year. And in particular, my delegation wants to thank President Agius for his dedicated years of service as President of the Mechanism and for all of the contributions, Mr. President, that you’ve made to the institution, which we have no doubt will continue as you transition from President to Judge.
Due to commendable efforts by the Mechanism, we continue to see it achieve significant success despite the challenges of operating during a pandemic. Over the next year, like many others, we look forward to the advancement of the proceedings in the trial against Felicien Kabuga, the alleged financier of the Rwandan genocide. We also look forward to the conclusion of the appeal in the case against Stanisic and Simatovic, the two former members of the Serbian State Security Service. The United States joins others in continuing to urge Serbia to turn over those indicted by the Mechanism.
Additionally, we note the importance of the ongoing investigations and proceedings related to contempt charges against individuals from both Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. These proceedings are a critical part of the Mechanism’s work, as the integrity of court proceedings is fundamental to the delivery of justice. We look forward to the pronouncement of the appeal judgment in the contempt case against Fatuma et al. later this month.
As the judicial activities of the Mechanism continue to draw to a close, the United States is mindful of the importance of finding durable solutions for relocating individuals who have been acquitted or released, and we encourage Member State cooperation in this respect.
We commend the Office of the Prosecutor for announcing its findings of the death of the two Rwandan fugitives, Mpiranya and Munyarugarama, both charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. And as we heard, four fugitives remain at large. The United States continues to offer a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest of these individuals, and we urge all countries to cooperate with the Mechanism’s efforts to bring these individuals to justice.
We commend the Mechanism on its efforts to support relevant investigations and prosecutions in domestic courts addressing atrocity crimes. We continue to support the Mechanism for the indispensable role it plays in ensuring that perpetrators do not enjoy immunity and that victims and survivors are not left without justice, even as the Mechanism winds down. We encourage those national jurisdictions to vigorously pursue accountability for atrocity crimes within their own systems, including by removing legal barriers to prosecution and mutual cooperation on outstanding cases.
Finally, Mr. President, after the success of the Mechanism and its predecessors, the ICTY and the ICTR, in proving that serious crimes, including genocide, were committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, it is very alarming to see political leaders, veteran groups, and others rejecting facts established by the courts and distorting the past to amplify grievances and embrace war criminals. The Mechanism has an important role to play on this issue as a repository for the facts and the evidence that was established through hundreds of trials. We applaud its outreach efforts, which include educational programs and social media campaigns.
But national authorities must also do more to combat the entrenchment of ethno-nationalist sentiment and glorification of war criminals, which only serves to inflame tensions and prevent reconciliation and healing. Strong countries speak honestly about the past, even when it is painful, so that they can meaningfully address the root causes of conflict and move forward into a peaceful, stable future.
We know now that the crimes committed in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were not accidental. They were not unavoidable, but were the result of deliberate choices by those in power who unleashed terrible violence against innocent civilians. The denial of historical facts and the celebration of those who have committed grave crimes is an affront to the victims and the witnesses who have courageously come forward to tell their stories, and it is an insult to our common humanity. The United States, yes, will continue to speak about the legacy of these courts, and we will continue to stand by the victims and survivors of these terrible crimes. Thank you, Mr. President.