Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council meeting on International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
Our delegation abstained in the voting on resolution 2422 (2018), as it did in the voting on resolution 2269 (2016), on the same issue. At that time we voiced our grave concerns (see S/PV.7636) about the reappointment of the same officials from the unfortuantely notorious International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
Today our fears about those staffing decisions have been justified. The latest two-year cycle of the work of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals is drawing to an end, and its situation is far from perfect. There are problems with its approaches to justice and its internal administration and staffing policies.
Our delegation expressed its opinion about those issues in the Security Council’s meeting on 6 June (see S/PV.8278), and we will not repeat them now. However, I would like to draw the Council’s attention to one very serious issue concerning the right to life and the provision of timely and appropriate medical help to defendants.
We repeatedly urged the ICTY to conduct a serious inquiry into Ratko Mladić’s treatment and, if it was beyond the prison doctors’ capabilities, to temporarily release him for treatment in Russia with our comprehensive guarantees.
Unfortunately, the Tribunal refused time and again to grant the motion of the accused’s lawyers, and Serbia’s guarantees were also rejected. The Mechanism rejected the most recent application for the General’s temporary release on 8 June. When we consider the materials in the Mladić case, which can be openly accessed on the Mechanism’s website, some curious information emerges.
Based on a document from the Registrar of the Mechanism concerning a report by independent medical experts, one can conclude that Mr. Mladić fears the doctors of the United Nations detention unit and does not wish to follow their prescribed course of treatment. At the same time, Mladić’s lawyers are not allowed to be present during his visits with the prison doctors, despite the accused’s wishes.
The excuse they have invented is medical ethics. What sort of medical ethics — based on trust between doctor and patient — are we talking about if, as the lawyers testify, the Mechanism’s medical service has been hiding part of Mr. Mladić’s electrocardiogram under stickers, effectively distorting his data? But even the medical information that the administration has been unable to conceal has enabled the defence to conclude that in the past three months the accused’s health has got considerably worse. He is not getting adequate treatment, and the United Nations detention unit authorities are doing everything they can to protect themselves and justify their incompetence.
This raises the question of whether the information that the judges are being given about the accused’s health is similarly redacted. The fight between Mr. Mladić’s lawyers and the United Nations detention unit over his health has been going on for a number of months now. The Appeals Chamber and the President have denied every petition by the defence time and again. Things have gone so far that there is a petition to disqualify judges for reasons of bias.
In that connection, I would like to ask the Mechanism’s leadership whether it realizes where this scandalous situation could lead.