The three Principals of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), President Carmel Agius, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz and Registrar Abubacarr Tambadou, today joined in marking the twenty-fifth commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide.
President Agius and Prosecutor Brammertz took part by video message in the official commemoration ceremony held at the Potočari memorial in Bosnia and Herzegovina, along with a number of other high-level international and national dignitaries.
President Agius started by sharing personal reflections from his time as Presiding Judge of the Popović et al. trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which dealt with the crimes committed in Srebrenica in July 1995. He noted that the life-long impact of this experience “was barely a shadow of the excruciating pain and loss that the victims and their families endured, and continue to endure”.
Regarding the progress made in the last twenty-five years, the President stated: “[T]here is much work ahead. While the ICTY and the Mechanism have delivered justice on an international scale, thousands of alleged perpetrators are yet to be tried domestically. Moreover, victims continue to be tormented by those who attempt to deny their lived experiences, and, thereby, their very existence.” President Agius expressed hope, however, that the new generation will have the capacity and determination to create a different reality, and will “champion the truth and justice in honour of the victims we are commemorating today”.
In his remarks, Prosecutor Brammertz stated that to “truly honour the memory of those lost twenty-five years ago, and to recognize the victims and survivors with us today, it is our responsibility to keep fighting for justice and truth and to call what happened in Srebrenica by its name, genocide.” He related the growing fears for future generations expressed to him by the victims and survivors and remarked that the rampant genocide denial and glorification of convicted war criminals “must be stopped”. “For too long the international community has hoped that this problem will simply go away. It will not”, he said. Prosecutor Brammertz called on the international community to “speak out with one voice when [the Srebrenica genocide] is denied”to avoid “failing the victims of Srebrenica again, like we did twenty-five years ago.”
Registrar Tambadou joined the President and Prosecutor in honouring the victims of the Srebrenica genocide and acknowledging the Mechanism’s responsibility for managing its legacy and that of the ICTY, by stating: “The ICTY and the Mechanism have meticulously scrutinised and documented the horrific events which took place in Srebrenica in 1995, repeatedly calling it by its only befitting name: genocide. As we stand together today, remembering this unthinkable tragedy, we are not only paying our deepest respects to the thousands of innocent victims and their grieving families. By ensuring that this unprecedented record of events we have been entrusted with is preserved, remembered and widely accessible, we are also taking a firm stand against injustice, impunity and revisionism. It will continue to serve as a sound testimony to truth and a future safeguard against indifference and denial.”
The ICTY and the Mechanism have convicted 15 individuals for genocide and other crimes committed in Srebrenica in July 1995, including senior Bosnian Serb political and military leaders. During the genocide, up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed or are still missing and up to 30,000 women and children were forcibly transferred from the Srebrenica enclave.