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UN war crimes tribunals face staffing crisis as end of their mandates approaches

6 June 2011 – Top officials of the two United Nations tribunals trying key suspects accused of genocide and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda today voiced concern over a staffing crisis resulting from the departure of employees as the courts prepare for the approaching end of their mandates.

In a briefing to the Security Council, Serge Brammertz, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said that the remaining staff are shouldering unrealistically heavy burdens.

Echoing Mr. Brammertz, ICTY President Patrick Robinson called for the support of the Council and UN Member States at large.

“We need your influence and support if we are to complete the work with which you have tasked us. And I must be blunt: if something is not done to alleviate the staffing crisis, the Tribunal will be forever reporting slippages in its work schedule,” said Mr. Robinson.

Hassan Jallow, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), also stressed the challenges posed to the tribunal by early staff departures.

“As an institution in the final stages of its mandate, we have particular problems that cannot be solved by application of the standard human resources policies,” said Judge Khalida Rachid Khan, the President of ICTR. “In this respect we support President Robinson’s proposal for a limited payment to staff members with five more years of continuous service who remain until the abolition of their posts,” she said.

Briefing the Council on the progress in trials and appeals at ICTY, Mr. Brammertz said his office had completed the presentation of its case in all but three cases, and that focus will now turn towards the appellate phase of proceedings.

He said steady progress was also being made towards implementing the Security Council’s resolution calling for the establishment of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals.

The Council set up a mechanism last December to finish the remaining tasks of ICTY and ICTR when their mandates expire, urging them to conclude their work by the end of 2014.

The mechanism’s branch for ICTR will begin functioning on 1 July 2012, while the branch for ICTY will commence on 1 July 2013.

Mr. Jallow told the Council that a consultative process between the ICTY and ICTR prosecutors has been established and an understanding arrived at between them regarding the structure and staffing of the mechanism.

Ms. Khan drew the Council attention to the problem of relocating people acquitted by the ICTR, saying three former suspects cleared of their charges remain in safe houses in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha, where the ICTR is based, due to the lack of relocation arrangements.

“The challenge to relocation is the unfortunate result of the absence of a formal mechanism to secure the support of Members States to accept these persons within their territories,” she said.

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