The president of the mechanism, and Prosecutor Serge Brammertz expressed their frustration over South Africa's protracted inaction over the arrest and surrender of the fugitive wanted for crimes in Rwanda. By Xinhua







Both the president and the prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals blasted South Africa on Wednesday for its failure to arrest a fugitive wanted by the mechanism, which deals with cases left over by the UN tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.

Judge Carmel Agius, president of the mechanism, and Prosecutor Serge Brammertz expressed their frustration over South Africa's protracted inaction over the arrest and surrender of the fugitive wanted for crimes in Rwanda.

« The mechanism strongly regrets the current lack of progress, particularly since, as we all heard in this very chamber in July of this year, South Africa believes that states have an international obligation to cooperate with the mechanism and the prosecutor, » Judge Agius told the Security Council in a briefing.

The mechanism trusts that South Africa, being one of the current members of the Security Council, will decide to honor its obligations under Chapter VII of the UN Charter by securing the arrest of the fugitive that was located on its territory in 2018, said Judge Agius.

In the same briefing, Prosecutor Brammertz detailed South Africa's repeated failures.

« I deeply regret South Africa's long-standing failure to execute a mechanism arrest warrant. Since my office was officially notified in August 2018 that one of the fugitives had been located in South Africa, I have endeavored to work with South African authorities to secure the fugitive's arrest. At all times we have sought to handle this matter with discretion and respect for South Africa's sovereignty. »

During discussions over the last year, South Africa provided changing reasons why it could not act. For each and every challenge that was posed, his office sought to work with South Africa and find solutions to overcome them, said the prosecutor.

South Africa said last week that it had finally submitted the arrest warrant to the competent judicial authorities for execution. But the fugitive remains at large today, said Prosecutor Brammertz.

« At this late stage, neither the victims nor this council can be satisfied with anything less than the fugitive's immediate arrest, » he said.

In response, a South African envoy promised his country's cooperation with the mechanism, but did not say when the arrest will be made.

« South Africa takes its international obligations seriously and wishes to assure the mechanism and the Security Council that it is firmly committed to combatting impunity and implementing the request for assistance. We will continue to cooperate with the prosecutor's office in order to ensure that the fugitive is brought to justice, » Xolisa Mabhongo, South Africa's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, told the Security Council.

South Africa fully respects its obligation to provide assistance to the mechanism in the investigation and prosecution of crimes within its jurisdiction, and the delay in positively responding to the prosecutor should in no way be regarded as a refutation of such obligation, he said.

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals was established by the UN Security Council in 2010. It has two branches, one in The Hague of the Netherlands, the other in Arusha of Tanzania.