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Ms Carla Del Ponte Press Conference, The Hague, September 12th, 2003

Press Release . Communiqué de presse

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


The Hague, 12 September 2003




Please find below the full text of the Prosecutor’s statement made during her press conference on 12 September 2003.

As you know, on September 4, the UN Security Council renewed my mandate at the ICTY for another four year term. I am very pleased and honoured that the UN Security Council entrusted me with a second mandate.

In UN resolution 1503 of August 28, the UN Security Council decided to split the positions of Prosecutor for Rwanda and for the Former Yugoslavia. Therefore on September 15th, Mr. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, from Gambia, will take office as the new ICTR Prosecutor. I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Jallow again in the coming days and also to cooperate with him in the future. I wish
him and his staff success in their difficult mission.

The split of the function of Prosecutor of ICTR and ICTY has saddened me. But I am also confident that what we achieved there with my office in Arusha and Kigali will facilitate the task of my successor. In other words, he will find a fully operational office.

Despite my regrets and the reservations I have expressed on the decision to split the post, I am convinced that the UN Security Council resolution gives strong support to the work of both Tribunals and preserves their respective independence. For this reason, I was relieved by the wording of resolution 1503. In this context, I am happy to continue serving as the ICTY Prosecutor as
I am satisfied that no impediment has been placed on either Mr. Jallow at the ICTR or myself at the ICTY to fulfil our mandates.

It is also important to note that resolution 1503 has endorsed our completion strategies for both Tribunals. We have before us a difficult challenge: to bring to justice the important cases involving the most senior leaders, and that within the given deadlines.

Most of the work lays on the Office of the Prosecutor for the 2004 deadline, in which we have to complete all investigations. But the work of the OTP is not the only prerequisite for achieving this goal. The successful completion of our work relies also on a full, sincere and swift co-operation from all governments in the region. To this end, the resolution sends a very strong
message to states. I trust that the Security Council and the international community will duly follow up this issue and thereby actively support the Tribunal’s completion process.

The continued delay in the arrest and transfer of all fugitives, including Mladic, Karadzic, Ante Gotovina and the Srebrenica “five” may endanger the completion strategy. It must be obvious to everyone that some individuals can definitively not be tried locally. I believe that together, the ICTY, the local governments and the international community, can contribute to establishing
lasting peace, the rule of law and justice for all victims in the region. The apologies exchanged this week between the Presidents of Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro, are encouraging because they demonstrate a desire for reconciliation which will lead to peace and democracy. Reconciliation can be achieved only by acknowledging the crimes.

On the other hand, I’m ready to intensify our efforts to help the countries in the Former Yugoslavia to improve their ability to conduct war crime trials in accordance with international standards. Our completion strategy includes transfer of cases to the local jurisdictions in order to end impunity.

My three main priorities for the next four years will therefore be the following:

- Firstly, to complete all investigations by 2004

- Secondly, to ensure the surrender of all remaining fugitives.

The Government of Croatia should immediately transfer Ante Gotovina to The Hague and Serbia and Montenegro should do the same with Ratko Mladic. The Bosnian Serb authorities should extend all co-operation to apprehend Karadzic. I hope to be able to report to the Security Council, during my next presentation in October, that its resolution 1503 has indeed been respected by the states

- Thirdly, to facilitate and support the objectives of the judges to finalise all trials in 2008 and all appeals in 2010. My Office is ready to proceed with 19 trials. Additionally, 11 indictments, involving 17 individuals, require the arrest of the accused.

Achieving these three priorities will only be feasible with the full co-operation of the States. They also pose undoubtedly a great challenge for me and all my staff. It won’t be easy but the cause of justice is worth all our efforts.