Since the confirmation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mechanism has been closely following developments in each of the countries where its branches and field offices are located, as well as the advice and guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN).
As an independent judicial institution, the Mechanism has a critical mandate from the UN Security Council and important responsibilities to accused, detained and convicted persons, as well as to victims and witnesses. The Mechanism therefore remains operational and is seeking to minimize interruptions to its activities to the greatest extent possible, while fulfilling the duties owed to those under its supervision.
At the same time, the well-being of our staff remains a top priority. Accordingly, the Mechanism has temporarily adopted wide-scale remote working arrangements to promote social distancing and enable most staff members to work from home, where possible.
Court hearings at The Hague branch have been postponed until June 2020 at the earliest. In Arusha, court hearings are currently expected to resume in August 2020.
In addition, all public visits to the Mechanism’s branches have been suspended until further notice.
Although hearings have been postponed, work on the cases continues with the active involvement of all three organs. Alongside this, the Mechanism continues to carry out its other essential obligations and functions, including: providing support and protection to witnesses; managing the UN Detention Unit in The Hague and the UN Detention Facility in Arusha; supervising the enforcement of sentences; tracking the remaining fugitives of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; reporting to UN Headquarters; and responding to requests for assistance from national jurisdictions.
During these challenging times, the Mechanism remains committed to the efficient and effective implementation of its mandate while fully adhering to public health measures and safeguarding the welfare of its staff.