The Importance of Sustained International Cooperation to Ensure and Defend Justice

Thank you, Mr President.

As Judge Agius addresses us for the last time as President of the Mechanism, I congratulate him on his successful tenure and thank him warmly for his unwavering service and for his presentation today. He expertly led the Mechanism and ensured very significant progress in its mandate, despite the global pandemic. And I welcome the Secretary-General’s proposal to appoint Judge Gatti Santana as President Agius’s successor.

I also thank Prosecutor Brammertz for his report and salute his recent work, as well as that of his office, in particular in confirming the deaths of Protais Mpiranya and Phénéas Munyarugarama.

Mister President,

I would like to make three points about the Mechanism today.

First, on the importance of justice and the defense of justice.

We are witnessing today appalling barbarism and heinous acts committed by Russia in Ukraine on a scale not seen in Europe since the dark days of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. The Mechanism recalls that the Security Council can and must act to hold perpetrators of atrocities to account. Our commitment to the Mechanism is unwavering and we will continue to support it in implementing its vision to be a small, efficient, temporary organization.

Unfortunately, some smear the Mechanism and its predecessors, glorify war criminals and deny the genocides that occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia and Herzegovina. We condemn these false narratives and denials, which punish victims and prevent societies from creating the prosperous future they deserve. It is brazenly dishonest and dangerous to promote the idea that peace and reconciliation are undermined by the painstaking and rigorous work of the Mechanism and its independent judges.

Second, on the future of the Mechanism.

As the Mechanism looks forward to its post-judicial phase, there remains vital work to be done. Four fugitives remain at large, we await the results of two appeals, and we look forward to Félicien Kabuga’s trial in due course, while accepting that the Mechanism must take his medical requirements into account.

But the work does not stop there. There are sentences to execute, witnesses to protect and records to preserve.

We support this important work, but we also expect the Mechanism to be as lean as possible, including developing detailed timelines for all Mechanism functions and terminating, limiting or transferring functions when came.

Third, on the importance of cooperation with the Mechanism. The successes of the Mechanism are the result of significant and sustained international cooperation.

We must therefore again raise Serbia’s referral to the Security Council by the Mechanism, for the continued failure to arrest and transfer Petar Jojić and Vjerica Radeta. This continued non-compliance is serious and follows years of requests, considerations and discussions. We urge Serbia to comply with the order of the Mechanism.

We commend the Mechanism’s capacity-building work in the Western Balkans. But judicial cooperation within the region is still insufficient. We call on the countries of the region to remove the obstacles to this.

Finally, we are concerned about the situation of acquitted and released persons relocated to Niger, who are now under de facto house arrest. We call on Niger and the Mechanism to urgently find a lasting solution to this problem.

Thank you Mr President.

Elna M. Lemons