PRESS BRIEFING BY INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
24 July 2002
The President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Claude Jorda, said the Tribunal was happy with the response and support it had received from the Security Council after presenting its report on the overall strategy aimed at completing the Tribunal's work during the period 2008-2010.
Mr. Jorda, together with the Registrar of the Tribunal, Hans Holthuis, and Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, told correspondents at a Headquarters briefing today that the report presented to the Council earlier in the day represented the thinking within the Tribunal. He was happy that the Security Council’s reaction to it, through the statement made by its President, “was very much in keeping with what the Tribunal and I wanted on the three or four questions we asked”.
Although completion of the Tribunal’s work was not expected until between 2008-2010, those dates depended on the achievement of a number of goals. Among them were concrete measures for the Tribunal to focus on high-ranking officials, and the setting up of a State court structure to deal with the complexity of the situation prevailing in the country.
He said he and his officials had asked the Council to help the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina to set up a multi-ethnic judicial State structure which could receive cases from the Tribunal, saying it was very important for the Tribunal to have the endorsement of the Council in the internal procedures enabling it to acquire the legal means to proceed.
“We explained why we needed that endorsement,” he said, adding that the Council was receptive and aware that for the Tribunal to meet the deadline, certain conditions had to be met. It was necessary to have a country that could accept the cases, and jurisdictions capable of trying the cases, according to international standards. To meet the deadlines set, arrests must take place. The Tribunal at present was seeking about 20 fugitives from justice, among them some very high-ranking people who, as fugitives, constituted a problem for the international community.
Additionally, financial means to support six trials going on simultaneously was another issue that needed to be sorted out to give a clear idea of the commitments that had to be undertaken, he added.
To a correspondent’s question, he replied that the Tribunal was not going to refuse to deal with cases: that was not its objective. It was just that a stage had been reached where it was felt that the Tribunal could not deal with everything. By that, he said, he meant that if the international community wanted, it could deal with everything. But for a lot of reasons, it was not going to deal with everything because since 1994 very important events had taken place, among them the coming to full sovereignty of a number of States in the Balkans.
Secondly, the international justice system was complex and cumbersome. That did not mean that it was unworkable, but simply that those countries were
reluctant to get involved in judging others. And the Tribunal felt the time had come for it to share the judicial load. He stressed that this in no way meant the Tribunal was flying in the face of its mandate.
“When countries can show that they're capable of judging their nationals, I think that gradually we should remit to them," he said. “Give them the torch so they can carry out the judgement. It’s not that we cannot do it. It’s just that I think it’s in the natural order of things that gradually we share the task of justice. And it’s just as important for Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Continuing, he said: “I hope that little by little they’re going to find their way back to international legal norms and judicial process. Gradually, I hope, the Tribunal will be able to withdraw from the process."
Asked how many people, from the point of view of the Tribunal, were involved, he responded, “If you want figures, the plan for delocalization is patterned closely on the plan for prosecutions and the penal policy. The Prosecutor believes at present that she could complete the prosecution in Bosnia and Herzegovina around 2004. That would cover approximately 100 persons accused under 17 indictments. Of those 100 accused, you will have high-ranking and intermediate people. Of those roughly 100 accused, about 50 can be deferred or moved to a State structure that is being set up in Sarajevo even as we speak here, and which should become fully effective in 2003.”
But again he stressed the fact that these were intermediate-level accused. "These are not leaders, heads of State, leaders of political parties. It’s not those who organized ethnic cleansing -- nor, however, is it merely the subordinates who took advantage of circumstances directly and personally to commit murders or rapes or displacements of populations. I don’t know yet, because the investigations won’t be finished until 2004. But these are intermediate people like camp commanders, paramilitary unit commanders, territorial heads who implemented a policy conceived above them but who at the same time were not merely subordinates or agents.”
They were people who had participated in the act. "Taking an ideal view of the organization of my Tribunal, we could very well imagine that these people could be tried by the [International Criminal Court] ICC." He said if one looked at the Tribunal’s figures, one would see that it had in some cases convicted and sentenced militia commanders. "Perhaps the time has come to place our trust in the State court system" which was about to emerge.
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