International Criminal Justice is more important than ever

July 17, 2020 1:45 PM

 

The three Principals of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), President Carmel Agius, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, and Registrar Abubacarr Tambadou issued the following statement to mark International Criminal Justice Day:

“On this symbolic day we wish to emphasise that international criminal justice is more important than ever, to both the international community and victims of mass atrocity crimes. As we reflect on the state of international criminal justice, we must also remember the horrific events that galvanised the international community in the mid-1990s: the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and the genocide in Srebrenica. The judicial landscape has changed dramatically in the quarter century since these events that shocked the world into action. In recent years, we have seen a turn towards new accountability mechanisms and domestic proceedings, also as a result of the pioneering work of the ad hoc Tribunals. With the rise of new technologies, mass atrocity crimes become more visible. The future lies in a combination of different justice models, and also the efforts of domestic or hybrid courts to follow up on our valuable legacy.

This is a day to honour and pay tribute to the bravery of victims and witnesses worldwide. This day belongs to them and their courage to stand up against injustice and come forward to tell their stories. Stories of being beaten, tortured, sexually assaulted, or forced from their homes. Stories of watching family members, loved ones, or neighbours being subject to these terrible crimes. We salute all the witnesses who, often at great personal sacrifice, put their trust in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the Mechanism and found the words to describe these unspeakable experiences so that justice could be served. The archives of these Tribunals, under the management of the Mechanism, ensure that their stories will not be forgotten and their voices will be heard by generations to come.

This is a day to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to deliver justice and uphold the rule of law. Despite the notable achievements of the ICTR, the ICTY, and the Mechanism, significant work remains to be done at both national and international levels to bring an end to impunity. While the arrest of Félicien Kabuga and the confirmation of the death of fugitive Augustin Bizimana, underline the strength of our determination, Protais Mpiranya, former commander of the Presidential Guard of the Rwandan Armed Forces, remains at large and the Mechanism continues to actively pursue the five other fugitives indicted by the ICTR. In The Hague, the Mechanism will soon complete proceedings in the Mladić appeal and the Stanišić and Simatović trial, and continues to offer its full support to national courts in the former Yugoslavia which are continuing the work of the ICTY.

Above all, 17 July is a day to inspire people around the world to advocate for international criminal justice. Everywhere, people want peace, justice, and respect for human rights and human dignity. The international criminal justice system embraces these values and aims to build a better world for all humankind, liberated from the scourge of war and mass atrocity crimes. We call upon the international community to support an effective and fair international criminal justice system according to which no one is above the law.”

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