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Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the UN Security Council VTC Meeting on the IRMCT, December 14, 2020

14.12.2020 - Speech

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Germany, for its part, will continue to support the IRMCT both politically and financially. We consider it essential, notably for the legacy of the institution, that the Court completes its activities in good order and with sufficient means, as has been done so far.

We commend you on the way forward this year. In particular, we are delighted to see that the Mechanism – through creative means – was able to commence, resume, and conclude in-court hearings that had previously been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the various challenges posed by the pandemic, we further appreciate the efforts undertaken by the Mechanism to ensure the health of those in its custody.

We remain deeply concerned about the denial of genocide in the situations under the jurisdictions of the Mechanism. History is not to be twisted so that it fits into today’s political narratives. A common understanding of the historic facts is fundamental for much-needed reconciliation and for improving neighborly relations. We urge political leaders to actively work on promoting reconciliation and on ensuring accountability for war crimes.

We would like to highlight once again the crucial contribution the Mechanism makes to our common fight against impunity. We renew our congratulations to the Office of the Prosecution for its extraordinary work regarding the arrest of Félicien Kabuga. The detention of Kabuga is a visible example of what can be achieved when Member States and the Mechanism work together. Unfortunately, in some concrete cases cooperation with the Mechanism is not as it should be.

We would like to congratulate you, President Agius, for the efforts made to minimize delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to your efforts, the remaining cases originating from the ICTY appear to be on track. To further minimize delays, we call on all relevant states to respond to requests for assistance, issued by the Office of the Prosecutor, in a timely manner.

We are very disappointed to hear that Serbia has declared not to implement the arrest warrants for Jovica Stanisic und Franko Simatovic. They have been indicted for most serious crimes. We urge Serbia to implement the decision of the Appeal Court and extradite both to the jurisdiction of the Mechanism. Justice for crimes of war has to be served – and will be served. This is also a major concern if a country wants to become member of the EU.

In 2020, we commemorated the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica – a stark reminder of the essential role of the Mechanism. Despite the constructive work conducted by the Mechanism, the issue of war crimes remains an open wound in the Western Balkans. We see with grave concern a rise in incendiary rhetoric and historical revisionism regarding war crimes and their perpetrators in the region. This year, when we commemorated the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica, I highlighted the fact that in the Republika Srpska, there is a university dormitory named after Radovan Karadzic. This has not been condemned by everyone here. I would urge the Representative of Serbia to address this and follow in the footsteps of President Vucic, who actually went to Srebrenica and commemorated all of the victims. It would also be good to hear a condemnation of the fact that Karadzic is experiencing a revival in the Republika Srpska. In previous meetings, we heard the Representative of Serbia then been complaining that [Ratko] Mladic was unhealthy. We looked into this after the last meeting and we didn't hear anything from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Mr. Mladic is in very good condition. What we are more concerned about are the 8,000 dead in Srebrenica and their family. This is what we should be concerned about.

On the Mechanism’s work relating to Rwanda: Security Council resolution 2529 (2020) hand underscored the importance of finding a solution for the resettlement of the nine acquitted and released persons presently residing in Arusha, who are unable to or afraid of returning to their country of citizenship. We are encouraged to hear that efforts to that end were enhanced and a strategy is on its way. Germany urges all States called upon by the Prosecutor to implement requests made by the Mechanism to assist in the apprehension of fugitives whom arrest warrants have been issued for. We, as members of this Council, also bear a particular responsibility.

It is not only a legal, but also moral obligation to hold accountable those who are responsible for these most horrific crimes. My plea is that you report about this meeting back home so that everything is done by all institutions, including the Ministry of the Interior, so that when IRMCT Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz visits South Africa next month, he will not leave empty-handed.

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