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Finland is the second State to sign an agreement on the enforcement of sentences.

Press Release

(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 8 May 1997

Finland is the second State to sign an agreement on the enforcement of sentences.


On Wednesday 7 May 1997, Mrs. Tarja Halonen, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, made an official visit to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. She was accompanied by His Excellency Mr. Erkki Maëntakanen, Finnish Ambassador to the Netherlands and by senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Minister met with the President of the Tribunal, Judge Antonio Cassese, the Prosecutor, Justice Louise Arbour, and the Registrar, Mrs. Dorothee de Sampayo. The Minister and her delegation also visited the courtroom of the Tribunal.

On behalf of the Government of Finland, the Minister signed an Agreement with the United Nations on the Enforcement of Sentences imposed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in Finnish prisons.

This Agreement will enter into force on 7 June 1997.

Finland is the second State to sign such an Agreement, Italy having previously signed an Agreement on 6 February 1997.

The Tribunal's officials thanked the Minister for her official visit and for Finland's decision to enter into the Agreement, and expressed their appreciation for the long-standing and unambiguous support of Finland for the Tribunal. Mrs. Halonen noted that the signing of the Agreement gives concrete expression to the readiness of her country to continue its cooperation with the Tribunal. She also expressed the Government of Finland's support for the Tribunal's work and noted the difficulties which the Tribunal faces in carrying out its mandate.


The Statute of the ICTY provides that the sentences handed down by the Judges "shall be served in a State designated by the International Tribunal from a list of States which have indicated to the Security Council their willingness to accept convicted persons. Such imprisonment shall be in accordance with the applicable law of the State concerned, subject to the supervision of the International Tribunal". (Article 27)


The Agreement with Finland is predicated on the necessity of finding an accommodation between international and domestic law. It strikes a balance between the primacy of the Tribunal and the need of Finland to conform with its domestic legislation.

Thus, while the Agreement upholds the primacy of the International Tribunal, it allows the Finnish authorities a certain degree of flexibility in enforcing sentences of the Tribunal, subject to the supervision of the Tribunal.

The Primacy of the Tribunal is clearly affirmed

The primacy of the Tribunal is upheld unequivocally by Article 3.

Article 3(1) provides that Finland shall be bound by the duration of sentences handed down by the Tribunal. It is given no latitude to alter the length of sentences.

Furthermore, Finland is not authorized to modify the conditions of imprisonment without the prior approval of the President of the Tribunal.

Finland's need to conform with its own legislation is safeguarded but subject to Tribunal supervision

Article 3(2) provides that the conditions of detention shall be governed by national law, subject to the Tribunal's supervision.

Article 3(3) of the Agreement gives Finland the possibility of a certain amount of leeway by providing that the Government of Finland shall notify the President of the Tribunal if a convicted person serving there is eligeble for early release.

Similarly, Article 8(1) provides for the possibility of a convicted person benefiting from any pardon or commutation of sentence arising under Finnish law.

However, any exercise of discretion by Finland is subject to the supervision of the President of the Tribunal acting in consultation with the Judges. Article 3(4) provides that where the President of the Tribunal decides that a convicted person should not become subject to an early release, he or she will be transferred back into the custody of the Tribunal. Article 8(2) makes a similar provision where the President decides that a convicted person should not benefit from the pardon or commutation foreseen under Article 8(1).

The Preamble provides that conditions of detention must conform to international standards, specifically, the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); the Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, adopted by the General Assembly; and the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted by the General Assembly.

Article 6 of the Agreement provides an extra guarantee of minimum standards in providing for visits to detention units by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC's findings shall be conveyed to the Government of Finland and the President of the Tribunal. The latter may request that the Government reports to him any changes in the conditions of detention suggested by the ICRC.


The Agreement does not apply automatically but on a case-by-case basis, following consultations between the Parties concerning a specific convicted person.

According to the Tribunal's procedures, the place of enforcement of a sentence pronounced by a Chamber is chosen by the Registrar upon consultation with the Tribunal's President and the Chamber's Presiding Judge. Consequently, under Article 2 of the Agreement, if the Registrar considers that a sentence should be served in Finland, she will request the Finnish authorities to accept the convicted person. If Finland decides to comply with such request in that specific case, the Registrar will make the necessary arrangements for the transfer of a convicted person from the Tribunal into the custody of Finland. Under Rule 103(B) of the RPE, such transfer should take place as soon as possible after the time-limit for appeal has elapsed.

Under Article 7(1), the Government of Finland will inform the Registrar if a convicted person dies or escapes, and two months prior to the completion of the sentence. Article 7(2) provides that the President of the Tribunal and the Government shall consult one another on all other matters relating to the enforcement of the sentence.

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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