I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union (EU) and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
We would like to thank President Carmel Agius for the eighth annual report of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals covering the period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020, and we congratulate him on his reappointment as President of the Mechanism.
We equally congratulate the Office of the Prosecutor for successfully accounting for two of the remaining fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The arrest and upcoming transfer of Mr. Kabuga sends a clear and powerful message that those who are alleged to have committed crimes cannot evade justice and that there is no impunity for serious international crimes. It is a testament to the determination of the international community to bring the perpetrators of such horrendous crimes to justice.
On that note, we would like to extend our gratitude to all States, who cooperated with the Mechanism to achieve this remarkable result. These successful outcomes highlight anew the importance of cooperation between the Member States and the Office of the Prosecutor in locating and arresting fugitives. We deeply regret the lack of such cooperation on the part of some Member States, and we underline that this is a legal obligation.
Further, we are grateful for the President’s remarkable leadership over the course of this particularly demanding period marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are impressed by the Mechanism’s ability to remain operational despite the current constraints due to the pandemic and its ability to continue to carry out its mandate, while safeguarding the health and safety of its employees and of those in detention facilities. We welcome the extension of its mandate by the Security Council last June.
We recognize that the pandemic caused unavoidable delays to the estimated timetable, and commend the implementation of written procedures by the judges to try to minimize such delays. We are following with interest the progress of all ongoing cases. It is important that they are concluded by the first half of 2021, as expected. We welcome the Mechanism’s commitment to that effect.
Furthermore, we wish to acknowledge the progress concerning the legal and regulatory framework of the Mechanism. The Practice Direction on the Provision of Support and Protection Services to Victims and Witnesses incorporates important gender-sensitive and gender-appropriate approaches. We very much welcome this development. We are also particularly pleased to see other steps being taken to enhance transparency and to clarify relevant procedural matters.
The commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide last year and the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide this year remind us of the atrocities committed and underline the crucial role of the Mechanism in the delivery of justice for the victims and the survivors of these tragic events. The ICTY and the ICTR – the predecessors of the Mechanism – were born of a shared commitment of the international community to prevent such horrendous crimes from happening again. They were a beacon of international criminal accountability and key factors in the fight against impunity worldwide. It is this legacy that the Mechanism carries on.
The rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security are the heart of the EU and its Member States’ foreign policy. We take this opportunity to reiterate our unwavering support for international criminal justice, in general, and for the Mechanism, in particular.
I thank you, Mr. President.
* The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.