Mr. Serge Brammertz, the Prosecutor, presented today to the Security Council the 18th report of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) on the Completion Strategy. In his briefing to the Security Council, the Prosecutor addressed the progress in relation to the status of the remaining trials and appeals, the cooperation with the States of the former Yugoslavia and the support to the national war crimes prosecutions in the region.
Speaking about the remaining trials and appeals, the Prosecutor stressed that a major goal was met with the commencement of the last ICTY trial, the trial against Goran Hadžić, in October 2012. Significant progress has been made in the Mladić, Karadžić and Stanišić and Simatović trials. The Appeals Division is preparing for an influx of appellate work.
Pointing to the crucial role of the cooperation of the States with the OTP, the Prosecutor stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia continue to respond to the OTP’s requests for assistance in a timely manner. The new government of Serbia assured the Prosecutor that it would maintain the previous positive levels of cooperation and has intensified its efforts to investigate fugitives’ support networks.
Turning to regional cooperation, the Prosecutor stated that “cooperation between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will soon take a positive step forward”. He welcomed the recent decision of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to sign the Protocol on Cooperation between their Prosecutor’s Offices on the exchange of evidence and information in war crimes cases. The Prosecutor encourages the parties to sign the Protocol without further delay as it will “offer practical solutions for improving investigative capacity and strengthening the professional interaction between Prosecutors’ Offices”.
As the national authorities, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, continue to face difficulties in prosecuting war crimes cases, the Prosecutor encouraged the judicial authorities there to complete the processing of investigative materials transferred by the OTP and prosecute where appropriate. He stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to face a backlog of hundreds of war crimes cases and there is no prospect of meeting the war crimes strategy deadlines. “Comprehensive measures must be taken to remedy the situation”, he added.
To assist in finding solutions, the OTP has turned greater attention to building capacity in the region by continuing to pursue strategies for channeling expertise to the national authorities. In addition, the OTP continued to support the work of its international partners to train prosecutors in the region. The OTP also intensified work on its legacy project on prosecuting sexual violence, as a large volume of such crimes remains to be prosecuted.
Finally, the Prosecutor mentioned the recent judgements rendered in Gotovina and Markač and Haradinaj, Balaj and Brahimajcases which resulted in “a number of reactions about Tribunal’s capacity to promote justice in the former Yugoslavia”. The Prosecutor stated that “while the underlying reasons for the acquittals in the two cases are very different, there can be no doubt that serious crimes were documented in the course of the proceedings” and that “the victims of those crimes have the right to justice”. The Prosecutor encouraged the national authorities in the region “to continue to fight against impunity within their jurisdictions, including through increasing regional cooperation”.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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