|(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 4 June 2009
|ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz
In his address, the Prosecutor provided an update on the judicial work of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), the cooperation of States, the efforts that had been undertaken to support the work of prosecution services in the region, as well as the organisational plans for the OTP during the final phase of the Tribunal's existence.
In relation to the judicial work, the Prosecutor noted that 2009 would be the last year of full trial activity before the downsizing scheduled to begin in 2010, and stated that significant progress had been made in achieving the completion strategy goals. He outlined the current status of all pending cases.
Turning to the issue of cooperation of States, the Prosecutor stressed that it remained critical to the successful completion of the OTP's trials and appeals work.
The Prosecutor noted that Serbia had made "additional progress in its cooperation with the OTP", as the large majority of requests for assistance, including requests for access to documents and archives, had been complied with. He added that "the search for and arrest of Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić" remained "the central issue in relation to Serbia’s cooperation".
In relation to the cooperation of Croatia, the Prosecutor stated that the remaining outstanding issue is the Prosecution’s request that Croatia provide a number of key military documents related to Operation Storm in 1995. Following Croatia’s investigation into the missing documents and the reports submitted in this regard, the Prosecutor informed the Security Council that the “progress in the lengthy investigation has been limited” and that “to date, the large majority of the military documents have not been submitted to the Tribunal.” However, he also said that the OTP had raised with Croatia its concerns “about the focus, manner and methodology of the investigation conducted” and that “he will remain in close contact with the authorities in the hope to achieve further progress in the near future”.
Turning to the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor said that there were no specific outstanding issues in relation to trials before the ICTY. The Prosecutor did express his concern that “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judicial system continues to face serious challenges which could have an impact on its cooperation with the Tribunal” and stated that an international presence in judicial institutions such as the Special Department for War crimes of the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, should be maintained.
Prosecutor Brammertz continued his address by turning to another priority of the Office of the Prosecutor – the support for national jurisdictions prosecuting war crimes. The Prosecutor said that this “remains a key component of the Completion Strategy” and that it is “the best way to ensure the successful continuation of the OTP’s work”. He informed the Council that the process of transferring investigative material to national prosecution services was ongoing, with three cases involving ten suspects being ready to be transferred and another four cases involving 11 suspects being prepared for the transfer to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
He also informed the Council that, as part of these efforts to support the local judiciaries, the OTP participated in several conferences with colleagues from the region and, with the support of the European Commission, established a cooperation project allowing prosecutors from the region to be integrated in the OTP in The Hague.
The Prosecutor also warned, however, that “national judiciaries continue to face significant legal obstacles and challenges with regards to the prosecution of war crimes cases”. He specifically referred to “the prohibition on extraditing one State’s national to another State and the legal barriers to transferring war crimes cases between states” which “threatens their successful investigation and prosecution”. Prosecutor Brammertz said that “all authorities concerned should address this issue by establishing the necessary legal frameworks”. “This appears to be the only way to avoid an impunity gap,” he concluded.
Addressing the organizational plans of the OTP for the future, the Prosecutor expressed the OTP’s commitment to the downsizing programme which is to begin in 2010 with a 60% reduction in staff in the next two years.
The Prosecutor concluded his remarks before the United Nations Security Council by stressing the need to retain OTP’s experienced and specialized staff members to complete the work and stressed that ways should be found “to retain our staff members until the end of trials”.
The full text of the Prosecutor’s speech can be found on the Tribunal’s website:
The full report of the Completion Strategy Assessment can be found on the Tribunal’s website:
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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