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ICTY Judges successfully conclude review of judicial procedures.
6 New Rules and amendments to 25 others
are adopted to expedite the hearing of cases
The Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) held their 18th Plenary Session on Thursday 9 and Friday 10 July 1998.
The focus of the meeting was on the completion of discussions on a series of amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) with the aimof streamlining and expediting the proceedings before the ICTY.
The adoption of 6 new Rules and amendments to 25 others completes a process which began late last year, following the election of Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald as President, and in which a variety ofexternal experts were consulted. Earlier this year, two International Criminal Trial Management Workshops were held at the Tribunal 1 . The Judges also considered a proposal from the Office of the Prosecutor, and they were guided in their deliberations by papers submitted by Defence counsel with experience of the Tribunal 2.
Under the chairmanship of Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen , Vice-President, a Rules Committee then prepared two Reports: the first containing general principles for consideration by the Judges at the 17th Plenary in March, and the second with draft proposals based on those discussions.
The new version of the RPE, which is effective immediately, will be available in both working languages of the Tribunal within days upon request at the Public Information Unit which will also release it as soon as possible on the ICTY Internet Homepage (http://www.un.org/icty).
THE MAIN CHANGES
Assignment within each Trial Chamber and for each case of a pre-trial Judge: after the initial appearance of an accused, the Trial Chamber will designate one of its members as a pre-trial Judge, who will conduct all pre-trial proceedings and matters, thus making hearings before the full Chamber unnecessary. The pre-trial Judge will be empowered to rule on pre-trial motions, other than those relating to jurisdiction and similar matters under Rule 72, and will ensure that all unnecessary delays are avoided. The pre-trial Judge will report regularly to his or her fellow members of the Chamber, which retains overall control over the case.
One single Judgement: the Chamber will render one combined Judgement, not only determining whether the accused is innocent or guilty but also, if the accused is found guilty of some or all of the charges brought against him, imposing sentence. This has necessitated changes to several Rules to provide for evidence relating to sentencing to be introduced during the trial proceedings, rather than at a later stage.
Amendment of an indictment: Rule 50 as amended provides that, once an accused is present in The Hague, until the commencement of the trial, any amendment to the existing indictment will be considered by the same Judge who confirmed it. This Judge will consider both the request for leave to amend the indictment and, if leave is granted, will review the amended indictment to ensure that it meets the requirements of the Statute and the Rules.
Streamlining of the pre-trial and trial proceedings: among the other amendments adopted at the 18th Plenary are revised time-limits for disclosure of documents by the Prosecutor or for filing Defence preliminary motions, and provisions for the advance submission of information to the Trial Chamber relating to admissions, contested matters, witnesses and exhibits, so as to enable the Trial Chamber to manage the case more efficiently.
"Our goal is not to try the cases with lightning speed but to conduct our proceedings
in the most efficient and expeditious manner with full respect for the rights of the accused"
Opening on 27 February 1998 the first of the two International Criminal Trial Management Workshops mentioned above, President McDonald outlined the objectives of the Judges and the spirit of the amendments eventually adopted as follows: “Can we do a better job, more expeditious? We have to! We need to consider more and different rules; not to make our proceedings overly technical, but to utilize procedures from both the common law and civil law to make our trials more efficient…This requires more efficiently disposing of pre-trial matters. And we must avoid unnecessary delays. But although we are looking to make our trials more expeditious, they must be fair. We should not force ourselves into a grand-prix race. Our goal is not to try cases with lightning speed, but to conduct trials making efficient use of court time”.
Speaking at the close of the Plenary Session, President McDonald noted that “these amendments draw upon a variety of proposals received from different sources. We have once again applied creatively the experiences of national jurisdictions to the unique context of the Tribunal, introducing further innovations to our Rules. The adoption of these amendments concludes the work done by the Rules Committee over the past few months and enables us to conduct our proceedings in the most efficient and expeditious manner, consistent with full respect for the rights of the accused”.
2 Mr. Toma Fila, from the Belgrade Bar, and Mr Russell Hayman, from the California Bar .
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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