Bijelo Polje, 07 May 2014
More than 60 students and teachers gathered today in the high school in Bijelo Polje, Montenegro, to attend the presentation on the work of the ICTY and related transitional justice issues, delivered by the Registry liaison officer Morgiana Brading.
The presentation provided the students with basic information about the mandate and work of the Tribunal, with a special focus on cases of particular relevance for Montenegro, i.e. those related to crimes committed in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and Foča, BiH.
A number of students initially expressed sceptical views about the Tribunal, saying that they believed that war crimes trials should be exclusively conducted in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. During the discussion, however, the students agreed that the ICTY has decisively contributed to the establishment of the national war crimes courts in the region, especially given that at the time the Tribunal was established, no country in the region was willing to start processing war crimes. One student remarked: "Outside pressure is necessary for our courts to start prosecuting our own officials. We would encourage that because they have to answer for the crimes they committed."
Many students also expressed dissatisfaction with the outcomes of some of the trials held before the ICTY, especially in the Gotovina et al. case. However, they eagerly listened to Morgiana's account of the reasoning behind that judgement and the facts established in the course of the trial.
Despite their strong opinions, the students said they were aware of the involvement of the Montenegrin government and armed forces in the Balkan conflicts and were in agreement that they too should be prosecuted. "Everyone responsible should face justice and they should be appropriately punished," one student said.