By P Prem Kumar
Australia’s foreign minister expressed regret Wednesday over Russia’s recent veto blocking a UN draft resolution to establish a tribunal to prosecute those behind the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 last year.
Julie Bishop underlined Australia’s determination to seek justice for the victims of the ill-fated flight MH17 and to work with Malaysia to set up an effective prosecution model to try those responsible.
“We thank Malaysia for efforts to establish an ad-hoc international crimes tribunal through the United Nations Security Council to try those responsible for the bringing down of MH17,” she said at the 48th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur.
“We deeply appreciate Malaysia’s efforts, we deeply regret Russia’s veto of the draft resolution on July 29,” she said in her opening remarks at the ASEAN-Australia dialogue.
Bishop expressed Australia’s commitment to the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2166, which was adopted immediately after the downing and demands that those responsible be held to account and that all states cooperate fully in efforts to establish accountability.
“We will not allow impunity when it comes to the bringing down of a commercial airline in commercial airspace with innocent victims on board,” Bishop said. “It sends a dangerous message to terrorists and non-state actors that the community is too weak to unite to resolve the crime.”
Kuala Lumpur-bound Flight MH17 was shot down July 17, 2014 over eastern Ukraine, while flying from Amsterdam, killing all 298 passengers and crew – including nationals of the Netherlands, Malaysia and Australia — on board.
Bishop added Wednesday that Australia had also conveyed its concern and thoughts to Malaysia over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean nearly 17 months ago.
“There is some hope that we may be closer to finding a solution, but in the meantime, Australia will continue to lead the search efforts in the search areas of both oceans,” she said.
Bishop’s remarks come as an international investigation team began to verify Wednesday whether a Boeing 777 wing part found on France’s Reunion island in the Indian Ocean belonged to MH370. The team’s findings are expected to be announced in coming days.