UN prosecutor warns against denial of war crimes in Rwanda

Prosecutor Serge Brammertz. Internet photo

UNITED NATIONS – The prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals on Wednesday warned that the glorification of convicted war criminals and the denial of war atrocities will impede accountability and reconciliation in Rwanda and in the former Yugoslavia.

Briefing the UN Security Council on the work of the mechanism, which deals with cases left over by the UN tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said much more remains to be done to achieve more justice for more victims.


The glorification of convicted war criminals and denial of war crimes, including genocide denial, continue to pose significant challenges to accountability and reconciliation, he said.


While his office is trying hard to get hold of eight fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Rwandan authorities are searching on their own for hundreds of additional fugitives suspected to have participated in the 1994 genocide, said Brammertz. 


“Nonetheless, there are still concerted efforts to deny the Rwandan genocide, particularly among Rwandan diaspora communities. Some promote revisionist accounts that minimize the scale of the genocide. Others continue to deny that the crimes were committed with the intent to destroy the Tutsi group in whole or in part,” he said.

In relation to the former Yugoslavia, thousands of cases still need to be processed by national courts, which will only be possible with significant improvements in regional judicial cooperation, he said. 

For a number of years, the denial of crimes and the glorification of convicted war criminals are pervasive throughout the former Yugoslavia. And the situation continues to get worse, according to Brammertz. 

This climate has a negative impact on national justice for war crimes. And it is impossible to speak about meaningful reconciliation when communities are growing further apart, not closer together, he warned.

In Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, prosecutors, judges, civil society and others continue fighting to bring perpetrators of the most horrific crimes to justice, establish the rule of law, and promote reconciliation.

They need the help and support of the international community as much as ever before, said Brammertz. The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals was established by the Security Council in 2010. It has two branches, one in The Hague of the Netherlands, the other in Arusha of Tanzania. 


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