Achievements

Some of the Tribunal's Achievements:

HOLDING LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE

By holding individuals accountable regardless of their position, the Tribunal has dismantled the tradition of impunity for war crimes. The Tribunal indicted heads of state, prime ministers, army chiefs-of-staff, government ministers and many other leaders from various parties to the Yugoslav conflicts. Thanks to the Tribunal, the question is no longer whether leaders should be held accountable, but rather how best to ensure they will be called to account.

BRINGING JUSTICE TO VICTIMS AND GIVING THEM A VOICE

By holding individuals responsible for crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, the Tribunal is bringing justice to victims. The Tribunal has indicted 161 accused for crimes committed against many thousands of victims during the conflicts in Croatia (1991-1995), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995), Kosovo (1998-1999) and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2001). >> Read more

The Tribunal has provided thousands of victims the opportunity to be heard and to speak about their suffering. Many of them displayed exceptional courage in recalling their harrowing experiences. The Tribunal preserves their testimonies in court transcripts and video recordings. >> Read more

ESTABLISHING THE FACTS

The Tribunal has established beyond a reasonable doubt crucial facts related to crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. In doing so, the Tribunal’s judges have carefully reviewed testimonies of eyewitnesses, survivors and perpetrators, forensic data and often previously unseen documentary and video evidence. The Tribunal’s judgements have contributed to creating a historical record, combatting denial and preventing attempts at revisionism and provided the basis for future transitional justice initiatives in the region.
>> Read more

DEVELOPING INTERNATIONAL LAW

Since its establishment, the Tribunal has consistently and systematically developed international humanitarian law. The Tribunal’s work and achievements have inspired the creation of other international criminal courts, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court. The Tribunal has proved that efficient and transparent international justice is viable. >> Read more

STRENGTHENING THE RULE OF LAW

The Tribunal has influenced judiciaries in the former Yugoslavia to reform and to continue its work of trying those responsible for war crimes. The Tribunal works in partnership with domestic courts in the region - transferring its evidence, knowledge and jurisprudence - as part of its continuing efforts to strengthen the rule of law and to bring justice to victims in the former Yugoslavia. >> Read more


BRINGING JUSTICE TO THOUSANDS OF VICTIMS AND GIVING THEM A VOICE

The Tribunal has provided thousands of victims the opportunity to be heard and to speak about their suffering. Many of them displayed exceptional courage in recalling their harrowing experiences. The Tribunal preserves their testimonies in court transcripts and video recordings.

One of the witnesses who testified at the Tribunal, a healthcare professional who had been involved in treating victims of war crimes, said that “The Hague Tribunal, [for] all the victims, all the women with whom I have had a chance to work, has a very great significance for them… They do trust that the real causes of what happened will be identified and that the people will muster enough courage, including victims, to tell the story of what happened... People expect that justice will be done and that the right decisions will be reached.” (Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstić (IT-98-33), 27 July 2000, witness Teufika Ibrahimefendić)

By holding senior individuals responsible for the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, the Tribunal is ensuring that the victims can see that the individuals who are responsible for their suffering are convicted by an international criminal court and sent to prison.

At the same time, many victims play a crucial role in the proceedings at the Tribunal as witnesses. By testifying at the Tribunal, they contribute to the process of establishing the truth. In turn, the Tribunal's proceedings provide these victims and witnesses the opportunity to be heard and to speak about their suffering. As of early 2011, more than 4,000 witnesses had told their stories in court.


ESTABLISHING THE FACTS

The Tribunal has established beyond a reasonable doubt crucial facts related to crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. In doing so, the Tribunal’s judges have carefully reviewed testimonies of eyewitnesses, survivors and perpetrators, forensic data and often previously unseen documentary and video evidence. The Tribunal’s judgements have contributed to creating a historical record, combatting denial and preventing attempts at revisionism and provided the basis for future transitional justice initiatives in the region.

As the work of the ICTY progresses, important elements of a historical record of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s have emerged. The ICTY has established crucial facts about crimes, once subject to dispute, beyond a reasonable doubt.

An example can be found in one of the Tribunal's judgements related to the crimes that occurred in the Prijedor municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina:

"On the 30th of April 1992, Serb forces took control of Prijedor. The takeover of Prijedor was followed shortly afterwards by the removal of the non-Serbs, Muslims and Bosnian Croats, from positions of responsibility. Many lost their employment, their children were prevented from going to school, and the radio broadcast anti-Muslim and anti-Croat propaganda… To avert any desire for resistance by the Croats, and especially the Muslims, the Serbs decided to interrogate any non-Serbs who might present a threat and arrested, in particular, any persons exercising an authority, moral or otherwise, or representing some kind of power, in particular, economic. At the same time, the men were separated from the women, children, and elderly. Men in particular were interrogated. The Serbs thus found reason to assemble in centres the non-Serbs who had not left the region. That is how the camps of Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje were established... The evidence presented to the Chamber makes it necessary to speak not of investigation centres or assembly points but of camps... Planned initially to function for a fortnight, [Omarska camp] in fact remained in operation until about the 20th of August, 1992. During this period of almost three months, more than 3,334 detainees at least passed through the camp. Thirty or so women must be added to this list, several of whom occupied high positions locally. All those detained were interrogated. Almost all were beaten. Many would not leave the camp alive." (Prosecutor v. Kvočka et al. (IT-98-30/1), Summary of Judgement, 2 November 2001)

In addition to evidence presented at trials, admissions of guilt from a number of accused have also greatly contributed to the establishment of facts. The statements that usually accompany such admissions of guilt corroborate the evidence collected by the Tribunal's investigators to contribute to an irrefutable account of some of the events that occurred in the wars of the 1990s. In another judgement related to the crimes committed in Prijedor, in addition to the physical evidence and the victims’ testimonies, the judges also relied on the admission of guilt of an accused – Duško Sikirica – to complete the picture of conditions in the Keraterm camp near Prijedor:

"Sikirica has admitted to killing one of the detainees in the [Keraterm] camp by shooting him in the head. Moreover, he admits that there is considerable evidence concerning the murder of other individuals at Keraterm during the period of his duties... In addition to the killings, Sikirica has admitted that there is evidence that beatings, rape, and sexual assault were perpetrated in the camp, as well as harassment, humiliation, and psychological abuse of the detainees. He further admits that there is ample evidence that the detainees were subjected to inhumane conditions during their confinement at the Keraterm camp." (Prosecutor v. Sikirica et al. (IT-95-8), Summary of Sentencing Judgement, 13 November 2001)

Many of their important statements have offered information or leads unavailable to the investigators, such as important details about military operations or the planning and execution of some of the most horrendous crimes. In a revealing account, Momir Nikolić, who was the Assistant Commander for Security and Intelligence of the First Light Infantry Brigade in Bratunac, and who admitted to his participation in the Srebrenica massacres, described the general attitude of the Bosnian Serb forces to the laws of war:

"Do you really think that in an operation where 7,000 people were set aside, captured, and killed, that somebody was adhering to the Geneva Conventions? Do you really believe that somebody adhered to the law, rules and regulations in an operation where so many were killed? First of all, they were captured, killed, and then buried, exhumed once again, buried again. Can you conceive of that, that somebody in an operation of that kind adhered to the Geneva Conventions? Nobody ... adhered to the Geneva Conventions or the rules and regulations. Because had they, then the consequences of that particular operation would not have been a total of 7,000 people dead." (Prosecutor v. Blagojević and Jokić (IT-02-60), 25 September 2003, witness Momir Nikolić)

In some instances, the perpetrators of crimes are the only ones who could disclose the location of mass graves so that the victims' families can finally locate and properly bury their dead. At the sentencing hearing of Dragan Nikolić, commander of the Sušica detention camp in Vlasenica, the following exchange took place between a victim and the accused:

Habiba Hadžić: "... My children were innocent and they lost their lives. They were killed... I would just like to ask Dragan to tell me where they are, in which mass grave, so that their mother could give them a dignified funeral. I want to give them a proper burial, and then I can go away myself..."

Dragan Nikolić: "As far as her sons are concerned, as far as I heard - because I wasn't there when it happened - on the 30th of September, I believe, together with a group of about 40 people, they were taken to Debelo Brdo and liquidated. From that group, I remember - and I can say this because I know this lady and her sons and I remember that group of people - I remember that this group included mainly people who had previously said that they wanted to stay in Vlasenica. Most of them were locals from Vlasenica, people whom I knew and some of them were my friends. That's why I remember them. And it was in this group of people that Enis and Bernis, this lady's sons, were. I knew them well. And from what I heard, there were liquidated – they were liquidated on that site... And if I remember her sons well, one of her sons was wearing a denim jacket and trousers. And should there be an exhumation, perhaps he could be recognised by his clothes. And if an exhumation takes place, I believe that's where her sons would be found. I wanted to tell this lady even before, but the circumstances were not favourable. I wanted to speak to her even before this, because I knew that she was anxious to know the fate of her sons, as some other people were to find out about their relatives. It is absolutely certain that this happened on that day, in fact, that night, and that they were taken away in that group of about 40 people to Debelo Brdo... And I can say with a great degree of certainty that their bodies should be there together with the bodies of those other people." (Prosecutor v. Dragan Nikolić (IT-94-2), 3 November 2003, Sentencing Hearing, witness Habiba Hadžić)

Admissions of guilt can also be very significant in providing additional evidence which is otherwise unavailable. One of the accused who pleaded guilty to crimes committed in Srebrenica, Dražen Erdemović, later testified in the trial of general Radislav Krstić, also on trial for crimes committed in Srebrenica in 1995. Erdemović testified about his role in the mass execution of Bosnian Muslim men that occurred on 16 July 1995 at Branjevo military farm. Even though the Prosecution submitted evidence from two of the four known survivors of that massacre, it was Erdemović who provided the detailed evidence that identified the people who were responsible. Dražen Erdemović said the following:

"... when they had all left, the Lieutenant Colonel was talking to Brano and I heard him say that buses would be coming. As soon as he said that, it wasn't long after that, he left with these two policemen in a car. Then Brano came back to us and told us that buses would come with civilians from Srebrenica on them. And I and some others started objecting, saying, "What are we going to do there?" And he said that we would have to execute those people. Then I saw two policemen taking men out, men who were in the bus, and these two men were probably the security for the transport of these men, and they reached Brano and Vlastimir Golijan. And the first group of people were brought behind this garage down there, maybe 100 metres away, maybe more, but roughly to such a position. Then Brano told us to form a line. The men in front of us were ordered to turn their backs. When those men turned their backs to us, we shot at them. We were given orders to shoot."(Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstić (IT-98-33), 22 May 2000, witness Dražen Erdemović)

The testimony of survivors is imperative in cases where scarce documentary evidence is available to implicate perpetrators of crimes.  In the “Čelebići” case (Prosecutor v. Mucić et al. (IT-96-21)) testimony from eyewitnesses was crucially important.
 
During mid-April 1992 tension rose within the ethnically mixed Konjic municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Bosnian Serbs surrounded the town of Konjic and shells were fired by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). When negotiations between the JNA and those of the combined Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim forces failed, the two allies conducted a successful military campaign that lifted the town’s blockade. Many local Serb men, and some women, were captured and placed in detention at various locations, including in a prison camp in the village of Čelebići.

During the “Čelebići” trial many victims who testified described that they either witnessed or experienced acts of cruelty and violence, that they were living in inhumane conditions with no food, water, medical care or sleeping facilities. The Trial Chamber found, “…that an atmosphere of fear and intimidation prevailed at the prison camp, inspired by the beatings meted out indiscriminately upon the prisoners’ arrest, transfer to the camp and their arrival at the camp.” (Prosecutor v. Mucić et al., Judgement, 16 November 1998)

The Trial Chamber heard testimony from many incidents at the camp. Grozdana Ćećez was one of the victims who endured torture and rape. She stated that Hazim Delić, deputy commander at the camp, raped her twice and that “(p)sychologically and physically I was completely worn out. They kill you psychologically.” (Prosecutor v. Mucić et al. (IT-96-21), 18 March 1997, witness Grozdana Ćećez) Another detainee, Nedeljko Draganić, testified that after his arrest, a few guards including Esad Landžo used to tie his hands to a beam and beat him on a near daily basis with rifle butts and wooden planks; on some other occasion Esad Landžo poured gasoline all over his trousers and set them alight. Draganić explained that “…Delić … told us that we were detained because we were Serbs.” (Prosecutor v. Mucić et al. (IT-96-21), 2 April 1997, witness Nedeljko Draganić) Other inhumane acts included electric shocks, which were used to inflict pain, convulsions, burns and scarring on detainees. Detainees, Milenko Kuljanin and Novica Đorđić, claimed that Hazim Delić derived sadistic pleasure from using electric shocks. Mirko Đorđić was another detainee who was subject to cruel treatment and torture. He stated that he would often faint from all the beatings and that on one occasion Esad Landžo forced him to open his mouth into which he placed a pair of heated pincers on his tongue, as well as in his ear. Some of the detainees were killed under orders of camp commander, Zdravko Mucić. Boško Samouković, for example, was brutally attacked with a wooden plank and subsequently died of the injuries.

The “Čelebići” trial was a milestone in international law. It was the first time that a court found rape to be a form of torture and convicted an accused on this basis.  As the Trial Chamber stated in its judgement, "there can be no question that acts of rape may constitute torture under customary law". (Prosecutor v. Mucić et. al, Statement of the Trial Chamber at the Judgement Hearing, 16 November 1998) For the victims, the greatest satisfaction was to establish facts and acknowledge the suffering of Serbs in Čelebići camp.

Dozens of crimes committed in Croatia were investigated and confirmed before the ICTY bench. Among them were two incidents that found particular resonance with public opinion: the shelling of the historic centre of Dubrovnik in December 1991, and the artillery attack of Zagreb in May 1995.

On 6 December 1991 the JNA shelled the historic UNESCO listed site, the Old Town of Dubrovnik. During the trial of Pavle Strugar, commanding officer in this operation, the defence suggested several variants of events. Arguments were presented that there was little or no damage to the Old Town, that the minor damage was deliberately or accidentally inflicted by the Croatian forces themselves or that the JNA did the shelling, but that they targeted alleged Croatian military positions in and around the Old Town. The Tribunal judges analysed those assertions together with those presented by the Prosecution.

The Trial Chamber ruled that it was satisfied that the damage was considerable and that it extended over substantial areas of the Old Town. The judges dismissed as unreliable the JNA report made a few days after the shelling that tried to prove that the damage was minimal. “The evidence shows that this Commission failed to inspect areas of the Old Town so that some damage was not considered at all.” (Prosecutor v. Strugar (IT-01-42), Trial Chamber Judgement, 31 January 2005). The judges established that during the shelling 52 buildings were damaged and six destroyed.

There was an overwhelming body of evidence that the damage was indeed caused by the JNA shelling, and not by Croatian forces. Ballistic experts and a number of witnesses helped to establish this claim. Croatian Army Captain Ivan Negodić was one of them, and he testified about the intercepted conversation between a JNA soldier and his superior: “(…) the soldier asked his captain: Captain, where am I to target? And I apologise to the Court in advance, because I have to say quite literally and translate quite literally what the captain answered the soldier. He said: You motherfucker. Everything is a target within the Old Town and its walls.” (Prosecutor v. Strugar (IT-01-42), 23 April 2004, witness Ivan Negodić)

It was also established that Croatian positions were all too distant from the Old Town to put it in danger of accidental or unintended fire from the JNA. The judges listened to the testimony of numerous witnesses, including international observers and reporters, who disputed claims of Croatian military presence in the town. The Trial Chamber concluded that, “the presence of these various independent observers, who were alert to observe activities in the Old Town especially any military operations, highlights the improbability that the Croatian defenders would establish or utilise defensive positions in the Old Town, or fire artillery or other weapons from the Old Town, and that any such activity could go undetected.” (Prosecutor v. Strugar (IT-01-42), Trial Chamber Judgement, 31 January 2005). Likewise, no such Croatian military presence was recorded in the JNA logbooks.

In May 1995, Croatian Serbs forces suffered some military reversals and as a direct response, on 2 and 3 May shelled the centre of Zagreb. Seven civilians were killed and another 214 people injured. The Tribunal conducted an investigation which resulted in the charges against the then President of Croatian Serbs, Milan Martić. When hearing the case, ICTY judges weighed the evidence and concluded that it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that Martić ordered the shelling which deliberately targeted civilians. (Prosecutor v. Martić (IT-95-11) Appeals Judgement, 8 October 2008)

They concluded that civilian casualties were inescapable considering the choice of weapon for the attack - a non-guided projectile weapon M-87 Orkan. The judges looked at the rocket in great detail and noted “the characteristics of the weapon, it being a non-guided high dispersion weapon (…) incapable of hitting specific targets”. (Prosecutor v. Martić (IT-95-11), Trial Chamber Judgement, 12 June 2007) In densely populated areas, like in the centre of Zagreb, this indiscriminate weapon was bound to inflict severe casualties. (Prosecutor v. Martić (IT-95-11) Appeals Judgement, 8 October 2008) The judges rejected the claim that the attack was a lawful reprisal, and stressed that motives behind a criminal act are irrelevant.

In both these cases it needs to be understood that leaders were not convicted for their political views or aims of the Serb leadership but rather, as the Appeals Chamber found in the Martić case, “… in pursuing political aims, Martić and other political and military leaders committed serious crimes.” (Prosecutor v. Martić, 8 October 2008)

The 1998-1999 conflict in Kosovo between the independence-seeking majority-Albanian population and Serb forces intent of retaining the territory within Serbia concluded in June 1999 with the United Nations mandated to establish and run an interim administration there. The departure of Serb forces enabled Tribunal investigators to gain access to the region and to conduct in-depth investigations in order to establish what crimes had happened and who was most responsible.

Although Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević along with several of his most senior staff were the first persons indicted by the Tribunal for crimes committed by Serbian security forces in Kosovo, the first trial to be completed at the Tribunal for crimes in Kosovo was that of  the Limaj et al. case, which dealt with three Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) officials. The trial centred on the crimes against humanity in the KLA-run Llapushnik/Lapušnik prison camp in central Kosovo.

The prosecution asserted that the KLA had directed a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population, both ethnic Albanians and Serbs. This was dismissed by the judges. However, the Judgement concluded that, “…there is evidence of a level of systematic or coordinated organisation to the abduction and detention of certain individuals.”(Prosecutor v. Limaj et al., Judgement, 30 November 2005)

Although initially denied by the defendants, the existence of a camp at Llapushnik/Lapušnik’s was confirmed through the evidence presented at trial. The judges assessed the camp to be part of “the co-ordinated and organised nature of the targeting of suspected collaborators”. (Prosecutor v. Limaj et al., Judgement, 30 November 2005) The Judgement established that the KLA kidnapped members of the Serb security services as well as Albanians suspected of “collaboration” who were subjected to discrimination, harassment and abuse. “It was those Kosovo Albanians with perceived links with the Serbian military or police regimes who were singled out for especially severe treatment in detention.” (Prosecutor v. Limaj et al., Judgement, 30 November 2005)

Those accused by the KLA of collaboration were referred to as “spies” or as “traitors to their people.” (Limaj et al. Judgement, 30 November 2005) Key evidence admitted by the judges was KLA communiqué number 43, published on 4 March 1998 that contained the phrase “death to enemies and traitors.” (Prosecutor v. Limaj et al., Judgement, 30 November 2005) 

The identities of 27 Llapushnik/Lapušnik detainees, civilians of both Serbian and Albanian ethnicity, were established during the trial. A dire picture of camp conditions emerged from the testimonies of former detainees, accounts accepted as fact by the judges. It was proven that almost all of those abducted were detained in either a very small basement storage room, or in another very small room normally used as a cowshed. The conditions in each of these rooms were inhumane. There was, at most times, gross overcrowding. There was no provision for washing or sanitary use, although after an initial period, a bucket was provided for use as a toilet in the storage room. This bucket was not regularly emptied, so it would overflow. The prisoners slept on concrete floors or, if they were fortunate, on some straw. Meals were provided at irregular intervals, days would sometimes pass without food. There was very little light or ventilation and the atmosphere was oppressive with heat and stench. Many of the prisoners were tied by the hands, or feet, or both. Some were tied to other prisoners. In the cowshed, most prisoners were chained to the wall and unable to move from their position in the room. They were forced to soil themselves. Many of the prisoners had been badly injured, with broken limbs, bones, internal injuries or gun-shot wounds. No medical treatment was provided, even though there was a medical clinic in the village for KLA personnel.

According to evidence, KLA members beat and maltreated prisoners. It was a regular occurrence that “prisoners would be woken up with flashlights and mistreated, sometimes several times a day.” (Prosecutor v. Limaj et al., Judgement, 30 November 2005)  Prisoners were often blindfolded, tied and taken from the room at night by KLA soldiers, who often wore hoods to hide their faces. The prisoners were then severely beaten or subjected to other extreme violence, and later were returned to the detention rooms, at times unconscious or in severe pain. Detainees lived “with the ever-present fear of being subjected to physical abuse, if not death, and in a constant atmosphere of anxiety enhanced by what seemed to them to be an arbitrary selection of detainees for abuse.” (Prosecutor v. Limaj et al., Judgement, 30 November 2005) As a result three people were confirmed to have been murdered. Haradin Bala, a Llapushnik/Lapušnik camp guard, was found guilty of torture and mistreatment of several prisoners.

Bala was also found guilty of murder committed when the KLA had to abandon the camp on 25 or 26 July 1998 because of a Serb offensive. Bala and another KLA guard marched a group of prisoners to the nearby Berishë/Beriša Mountains. The guards then released some people, but executed nine remaining prisoners, all Kosovo Albanians.

Determining the facts of the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia is crucial in order to combat denial and prevent attempts at revisionism. The detail in which the ICTY’s judgements describe the crimes and the involvement of those convicted make it impossible for anyone to dispute the reality of the horrors that took place in and around Bratunac, Brčko, Čelebići, Dubrovnik, Foča, Prijedor, Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zvornik, to name but a few. As other trials are completed, further facts will be established regarding crimes committed in these and other areas in the former Yugoslavia.


DEVELOPING INTERNATIONAL LAW

Since its establishment, the Tribunal has consistently and systematically developed international humanitarian law. The Tribunal’s work and achievements have inspired the creation of other international criminal courts, including the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court. The Tribunal has proved that efficient and transparent international justice is viable.

The Tribunal is a unique institution and a pioneer in international legal proceedings. The first truly international war crimes tribunal, and the first tribunal established under Chapter VII of the UN Charter as a measure to maintain international peace and security, the ICTY has made a number of lasting contributions to international justice:

• The Tribunal has created an innovative system of procedural law, combining elements of adversarial and inquisitorial legal traditions;
• The Tribunal has established the most modern court facilities in the world, the layout and technical equipment of which have been taken as a model in other modern courtrooms such as the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone;
• The Tribunal has established, developed and maintained an effective victims and witnesses programme;
• The Tribunal has established a unique legal aid system and contributed to the creation of a group of defence attorneys highly qualified to represent accused in war crimes proceedings before international judicial bodies;
• The Tribunal has created a Judicial Database of all its jurisprudence providing access to a vast amount of jurisprudence in international procedural and criminal law.

The legal precedents set by the Tribunal have expanded the boundaries of international humanitarian and international criminal law, both in terms of substance and procedure:

• The Tribunal has identified a general prohibition of torture in international law which cannot be derogated from by a treaty, internal law or otherwise;
• The Tribunal has made significant advances in international humanitarian law pertaining to the legal treatment and punishment of sexual violence in wartime;
• The Tribunal has specified crucial elements of the crime of genocide, in particular the definition of the target of this crime;
• The Tribunal has determined that enslavement and persecution constitute crimes against humanity;
• The Tribunal has applied the modern doctrine of criminal responsibility of superiors, so-called command responsibility. It has clarified that a formal superior-subordinate relationship is not necessarily required for criminal responsibility. In the same vein, the Tribunal has removed uncertainty about the level of knowledge to be expected from a superior whose subordinates were about to commit crimes or actually committed them;
• The Tribunal has made numerous contributions to issues of procedural law, some of which are in the areas of protective measures for witnesses, the confidentiality and disclosure of information relevant for the national security of states, guilty pleas of accused and duress as a defence, among others.


STRENGTHENING THE RULE OF LAW

The Tribunal has encouraged judiciaries in the former Yugoslavia to reform and to continue its work of trying those responsible for war crimes committed there during the 1990s. The Tribunal works in partnership with domestic courts in the region - transferring its evidence, knowledge and jurisprudence - as part of its continuing efforts to bring justice to victims in the former Yugoslavia.

In November 1995, on the conclusion of the Dayton peace agreement, the Tribunal’s then President, Antonio Cassese, commented as follows:

"Justice is an indispensable ingredient of the process of national reconciliation. It is essential to the restoration of peaceful and normal relations between people who have had to live under a reign of terror. It breaks the cycle of violence, hatred and extra-judicial retribution. Thus Peace and Justice go hand-in-hand." (Antonio Cassese, ICTY Press Release Number 27, 24 November 1995)

In addition to its primary function of trying individuals for war crimes, the Tribunal has also served as an incentive to authorities in the former Yugoslavia to reform their judiciaries, and has been a catalyst for the creation of specialised war crimes courts. These and other courts across the former Yugoslavia have and will continue to benefit from the Tribunal’s invaluable experience in dealing with war crimes and the volume of evidence that the ICTY has made, and continues to make, available to the local prosecutors.

Through its central role in the so-called Rules of the Road system, the ICTY Prosecution has reviewed over 900 investigations files from prosecution offices in Bosnia and Herzegovina to verify that the inquiries were justified and whether any were related to ICTY cases. This was done in order to ensure freedom of movement across Bosnia and Herzegovina by preventing arbitrary arrests of individuals on war crimes charges.

To further support the process of strengthening the rule of law, the Tribunal is actively involved in transferring its expertise to legal professionals from the former Yugoslavia so as to assist them in dealing with war crimes cases and enforcing international legal standards in their local systems. In implementing its completion strategy, the Tribunal has transferred several ICTY cases, as well as numerous investigative files, to national authorities and courts in the former Yugoslavia. These transferrals, mainly to courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, have resulted in many convictions being secured and truly provides a new dimension to the principle that its jurisdiction runs concurrent to national courts. The Tribunal is especially committed to assisting the War Crimes Chamber of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The ICTY has also provided substantial assistance to the War Crimes Chamber of the Belgrade District Court as well as the Croatian judiciary dealing with war crimes cases, and will continue to do so.

All of these efforts have contributed to promoting respect for the rule of law across the former Yugoslavia which is vital for long-term stability in the region.

The ICTY has made a vital contribution to international justice, well beyond the region of the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal's judges and staff have extensively shared their expertise with those involved in the development of other international courts, such as the International Criminal Court, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and others. With its experience to date, the ICTY has played a crucial role in bringing justice not just to people in the former Yugoslavia but across the globe.