|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 30 March 2009
Conference of Prosecutors to be held in Brussels, Belgium, on 2-3 April 2009
On 2 and 3 April, a Conference of State and War Crimes Prosecutors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia will be held in Brussels, Belgium.
The main aim of the conference in April is to further strengthen regional cooperation in criminal matters which remains crucial to the continued prosecution of war crimes in the region. The Prosecutors will discuss issues related to their current investigations and prosecutions and the related challenges. They will also discuss current efforts to create an inventory of war crimes cases as well as cooperation with the Tribunal’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).
The conference will also see the launch of the “Joint European Commission and ICTY Training Project for National Prosecutors and Young Professionals from the former Yugoslavia”. The aim of this project is to create an opportunity for legal professionals from the region of the former Yugoslavia to work side by side with OTP staff and build on earlier and ongoing efforts of capacity building and knowledge transfer.
The Conference of Prosecutors is funded by the European Commission and is part of ongoing efforts to develop regional cooperation which began as an initiative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in November 2004. This initial effort was followed by a number of subsequent meetings and conferences between state and war crimes prosecutors from the region of the former Yugoslavia, with the continued commitment and support from the ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor. The OTP is committed to continuing its ongoing cooperation with local war crimes prosecutors and judicial authorities by transferring remaining investigation files and continuing to share accumulated information and expertise.
The Prosecutors will hold a press conference on 2 April. Further details will be provided in due course.
Regional Cooperation in war crimes prosecutions
In November 2004, the OSCE together with the regional judicial and political authorities started what became known as “The Palić Process,” after the Serbian town in which the first meeting was held in November 2004. This conference brought together relevant judicial and state administration actors from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro. The topic was interstate judicial cooperation in war crimes proceedings. The expert-level meeting mapped out a series of concrete actions that the participating countries undertook to carry out to enhance regional cooperation in this area. Further meetings were held in Brioni (June 2005), Mostar (October 2005), Novi Sad (April 2006), Zagreb (June 2007). The participation in the meetings included the highest representatives of prosecutors’ offices and courts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro in charge of war crimes investigations and trials.
The format of the meetings gradually changed and, starting with the conference held on the island of Brioni in July 2007, it became known as the “Brioni process” involving only the Prosecutors. ICTY officials participated in each meeting as observers and contributed their experience and expertise to the process.
Joint European Commission and ICTY Training Project for National Prosecutors and Young Professionals from the former Yugoslavia
The main purpose of the Visiting National Prosecutors Program is to strengthen the capacity of national prosecutors to deal with the large number of war crimes cases stemming from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia through “on the job” training including the use of electronic databases and the procedure to gain access to confidential material according to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the ICTY. It is also envisaged that the persons could act as contact points for the national war crimes prosecution offices in their respective country allowing them to do research and consult with staff in OTP on cases investigated and prosecuted at the national level.
Designated staff from public prosecution services of the former Yugoslavia will be given direct access to the expertise, data and information held by the OTP and will have the opportunity to work side by side with the staff of the OTP and particularly its Transition Team, which is in charge of cooperation with national prosecution offices. In addition, the visiting prosecutors will have the opportunity to consult with staff of the OTP on related cases; they will have the opportunity to consult with OTP internal experts; and they will have the opportunity to learn about methodologies of searching and reviewing large volumes of material as applied by OTP criminal analysts.
The main purpose of the Visiting Young Professionals Program is to invest in the education and training of young legal professionals from the former Yugoslavia with a special interest in working on war crimes cases and by doing so, to invest in the future capacity of the countries in the former Yugoslavia to effectively deal with complex war crimes cases.
Young legal professionals will be given an opportunity to assist OTP in basic case work involving evidentiary as well as legal matters and to attend lectures and presentations on various topics related to the work of the OTP and the ICTY in general.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
For more information, please contact our Media Office in The Hague
Tel.: +31-70-512-5343; 512-5356 - Fax: +31-70-512-5355 - Email: press [at] icty.org