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Prosecutor Brammertz’s Address Before The Security Council

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

The Hague, 3 December 2009


Prosecutor Brammertz’s Address Before The Security Council

ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz
The Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz addressed today the UN Security Council and provided his progress report on the completion strategy.

In his address, the Prosecutor provided an update on the status of trials and appeals, the cooperation between the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and States, the capacity building efforts throughout the region of the former Yugoslavia, and the plans to downsize the Office of the Prosecutor in the coming years.

At the outset, the Prosecutor outlined the progress in cases and noted that the last trial of those currently in custody - that of Zdravko Tolimir - is scheduled to commence on 17 December 2009. He stressed that the recent commencement of the trial of Radovan Karadžić is also a reminder of the fact that Ratko Mladić remains at large and that his place is before the Trial Chamber, with Karadžić. He informed the Security Council that prosecution lawyers are currently reviewing the Mladić indictment with a view to filing the proposed amendments in the near future.

Turning to the issue of cooperation of States, the Prosecutor stressed that it “remained a key condition to the successful accomplishment of the Tribunal’s mandate and meeting the completion strategy goals”.

The Prosecutor noted that Serbia’s cooperation with the OTP has continued to progress, as the “Prosecution requests for access to documents and archives were being dealt with more expeditiously and effectively”. He added that the most critical aspect of Serbia’s cooperation is the need to apprehend Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić and that this remains one of the OTP’s highest priorities. The Prosecutor went on to say that his office “recognizes the professionalism and commitment of operational services tasked with the tracking of fugitives,” that “these services are now working more efficiently and in a coordinated manner” and that a “variety of operational activities including search operations were being conducted.” He concluded by stressing that “Serbia must maintain these efforts with the clear objective of apprehending the fugitives”.
Turning to the cooperation of Croatia, the Prosecutor stated that the “central issue of concern remains the still unresolved request to locate and obtain key military documents related to Operation Storm of 1995.” The Prosecutor welcomed the personal initiative of the Prime Minister of Croatia to establish in October 2009 an Inter-Agency Task Force aimed at locating these documents and stated that a recent report of the Task Force was helpful in revealing gaps in the administrative investigation and in identifying further investigative steps to be taken. The Prosecutor concluded by saying that “these and all other available investigative steps must be urgently undertaken in order to complete a comprehensive and credible investigation into locating the missing documents”.

In relation to the cooperation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Prosecutor expressed his concern about the possible departure of international personnel and support staff from the Special Department for War Crimes. He said that “if this matter is not urgently addressed, ongoing trial proceedings and war crimes investigations could be jeopardized” and that “there will also be serious repercussions for the Tribunal’s work.” “Immediate action is needed,” he concluded.

Turning to the cooperation with prosecution offices in the region of the former Yugoslavia, the Prosecutor informed the Council that the transfer of investigative material to national prosecution services will soon be completed with a total of 17 investigative files (involving 43 suspects) handed over to authorities in the former Yugoslavia. The Prosecutor also warned that “national prosecution services and judiciaries continue to face significant legal obstacles and challenges with regard to the prosecution of war crimes” and that “the prohibition on extraditing nationals to other states threatens successful investigations and prosecutions, as do legal barriers to the transfer of war crimes cases between states”.  

Prosecutor Brammertz also stated that the strengthening of the judicial systems in the States of the former Yugoslavia remains a fundamental aspect of the Tribunal’s completion strategy. As a concrete example, he mentioned the successful project for National Prosecutors and Young Professionals from the former Yugoslavia, set up jointly by the OTP and the European Commission, which brought three prosecutors - one from Bosnia and Herzegovina, one from Croatia and one from Serbia - to work as liaison prosecutors within the OTP in The Hague. This project also offers funded internships to young legal professionals from the former Yugoslavia with a special interest in war crimes proceedings.

Finally, the Prosecutor informed the Security Council of the imminent downsizing of his Office, with a planned reduction of 60% of staff positions over the next two years.

The Prosecutor concluded by thanking the Council for its continued support of OTP’s work.

The full text of the Prosecutor's speech can be found at:

In English

In French

The full report of the Completion Strategy Assessment can be found on the Tribunal’s website:

In English

In French

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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