Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin at UNSC meeting on the report of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals
We welcome Mr.Agius and Mr.Brammertz.
Over the past 6 months, the IRMCT, the very name of which contains the word “residual”, has made no progress towards gradual termination of its activity. Security Council resolution that established the Mechanism underscored that its “functions and size will diminish over time”. However, there have been no actual reductions either in staff or budget of the Mechanism.
Alleged progress that all IRMCT reports overemphasize so diligently should be considered in a broader timespan. In this case, it will become clear that in terms of staff number, the Mechanism is standing at the level of 2017. In other words, over the past 5 years, there has been no real drawdown. Instead of this, the IRMCT has been going around in circles and engaging in bureaucratic eye-washing.
I underscore – the IRMCT has only 3 cases in its judicial basket, which will be reduced to two from July on, one of them being a first-instance case, and the other – an appeal case. There are no new cases in sight (of course, if the Mechanism resists the temptation to use cases of contempt of court as a pretext to prolong its existence). Why keep so many personnel in these circumstances? To us, it is unclear.
At this moment, IRMCT’s two-year review is in progress. Its results will define the parameters of the Mechanism’s further operation. We do hope that the review will help the IRMCT leadership make efforts that are necessary to facilitate soonest drawdown of its work.
Neither the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, nor the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia could boast of effective resource management. It’s sad that the IRMCT inherited this characteristic feature. As we take it from the recent report, throughout its entire existence the IRMCT has been chasing its own shadow. As it turned out, one of the main “fugitives”, P.Mpiranya, has been dead for 15 years already; and the other, P.Munyarugurama, for 20 years. And it was only revealed now. This can hardly be considered a token of extraordinary efficiency. We regret that the ICTR and the Residual Mechanism failed to bring the “main suspects” to account.
The delegation of Russia closely monitors the observance of human rights of all individuals in ICRMT custody. According to the report, one of the acquitted persons in Arusha has died. We find this very concerning, as well as the fact that the report provided no details as to the circumstances of his death.
It has been a year since the rejection of an appeal of R.Mladic, who has remained in custody of the Mechanism since then. We follow the news about his declining health with growing concern. We demand that the Mechanism double its efforts to monitor the health status of everyone in its custody and ensure their access to timely and qualified medical assistance as per UNSC resolution 2529 (2020).
I am speaking at the beginning of this meeting. But I am sure that some delegations will speculate about the so-called legacy of the Mechanism and the Tribunals. Leadership of these bodies has also said a lot on this matter. At the same time, it becomes a widespread practice to defy the results of their work, i.a. “glorify” the individuals that were convicted.
Let’s sort out what this legacy is and whether it can truly promote inter-ethnic and inter-religious reconciliation in the Balkans.
Counter to the hopes that one initially pinned on it, the IRMCT from the first days of its existence took after the lopsided and politically biased ICTY. Anti-Serb “inclination” of investigations and a firm conviction that the Serb people had been responsible for the events of 1990s did not go anywhere.
It is not even about how many representatives of each ethnic group were convicted by the ICTY and the IRMCT. If we put the question like this, it would be an inexcusable oversimplification. The main questions here are: who was (or was not) convicted? What were they convicted of? What happened to the leaders on the both sides?
In this connection, PACE report on the atrocities committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998-2000 was a true revelation. The report was issued on 7 January of 2011 and exposed crimes against humanity, war crimes, systematic abductions and killings, as well as industrial-scale trafficking in body organs.
Surprisingly, neither the ICTY nor the IRMCT as its successor had any questions to those who were mentioned in the report. Witnesses gave testimonies about “black transplantology” and other ugly and inhumane activities by the leaders of Kosovo Albanians, yet the ICTY called none of them to account. It did not even start to investigate. This is about all you need to know about the impartiality and objectivity of the ICTY and IRMCT, and international criminal justice at large.
This sort of protection by the ICTY made the top tiers of an illegitimate territorial entity that had been illegally separated from Serbia feel completely infallible. Yesterday’s blood-stained bandits and criminals turned into respectable politicians reposing on the laurels of national heroes, giving interviews, shaking hands with European leaders, and, until recently, indulging in freedom and impunity.
Let me ask a question to our Western colleagues who love speculating about the victim-centered approach. What do you think the relatives of people who had been sold into slavery or for organ harvesting felt when they watched “European voyages” and “political tours” by Hashim Thaçi, Ramush Haradinaj and their accomplices? And how did fight against impunity fir into this scheme?
The institution of Kosovo Specialist Chambers that was meant to investigate into Albanian atrocities does not lift the question why the ICTY had remained blind to such blatant crimes throughout the years of its existence. It should have raised charges against the perpetrators of most heinous crimes. Its policy of “selective blindness” is an indelible blemish of shame that will remain part of ICTY and IRMCT legacy forever.
As for the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, this initiative came too late to say the least. It should have been established some 20 years earlier. But even now, it does not hurry to pass verdicts.
Besides, its mandate was deliberately designed to include many loopholes that defense lawyers deftly made use of. For example, at this moment they are trying to have charges lifted for “criminal deeds committed before mid-1998 or after 10 June 1999 or committed at the territory of Albania.” Why so? Why should charges be lifted if those are charges for crimes committed on the territory of Albania? Who is interested in covering up Albanian tracks in the industry (that existed back in the times of the war in the Balkans) of abductions of Serbs and harvesting them for organs for subsequent sale to wealthy individuals in Europe and beyond?
I am done here, Mr.President.