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Statement by Judge Claude Jorda, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Press Release PRESIDENT

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

The Hague, 27 January 2000

Statement by Judge Claude Jorda, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

As you are aware, I was elected President on 16 November last year (…). This period of a little more than two months has, as I had hoped, allowed me to concentrate upon the present operational state of our Tribunal and to discern whether I was correct or not in the remarks I made upon the subject to my peers at the time I asked them to place their confidence in me by electing me to the position I now hold.

As you know, I have been at the Tribunal almost since the Institution’s inception. Over recent years, I have thus had the opportunity as a Judge to understand what functions well within the Tribunal and what functions less well. I therefore wanted first to confirm this assessment and to identify the possible solutions to certain perceived difficulties before then addressing you. (…)

Straight off, I would like to make an initial observation. The Tribunal is at a turning point in its history. Yes, the Tribunal is functioning well. Furthermore, it has in recent years not only become widely known by the public but also acquired definite credibility. Nevertheless certain issues are now looming on the horizon which must be addressed if we wish to allow the Tribunal to continue fulfilling its historic mission.

Second observation, the Tribunal operates in unique circumstances. Of the more than ninety accused, sixty-six of whom remain indicted, thirty are still at large, a state of affairs which is unusual for any criminal system. We must therefore insist that all the accused be arrested and, above all, the principal architects of the atrocities committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Of course, criminal policy is the prerogative of the Prosecutor but, and I say this as President of the Tribunal, I support totally the Prosecutor, Mrs. Del Ponte, and I intend, within the limits of my powers and strictly heeding our respective duties and independence, to assist her in doing everything possible to arrest and then judge in fair and equitable trials the most senior officials.

It then becomes relevant to ask the question "If all the accused were to be arrested tomorrow or today, when, and even how, would we be in a position to judge them in accordance with the principles of justice as recognised throughout the civilised world at the end of a fair and expeditious trial?"

The length of preventative detention is an increasingly worrying issue to me. Despite the nature of the atrocities committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, international criminal justice cannot easily move away from the universally recognised criteria governing detention. At the same time, demands cannot be made for all the accused to be arrested only for them then to be possibly released without standing trial.

Although we have first and foremost an obligation towards the accused, we also have one to the international community. In this regard, we must question the productivity and efficiency of the Tribunal. International justice comes at a very high price. What time-frame does the Tribunal set itself for fulfilling its mission? This is a question which concerns me as President but which also concerns the Prosecutor who initiates prosecution.

Admittedly, I would not be so pretentious as to claim to have an answer to all these questions but as you are probably aware a group of experts mandated by the United Nations has recently analysed every aspect of the Tribunal’s operations. The final report of this group of experts was published last Tuesday. Upon my election, I undertook to draw maximum advantage from the report but the report has a bearing on all of the Tribunal’s authorities and so I have entrusted the task of making maximum benefit of the report to a multi-disciplinary group which brings together the Judges, the Prosecutor, the Registrar and Defence counsel. However, in concert with the other Judges, I have already identified several approaches which I would like to outline for you this morning.

These approaches can be categorised into two distinct groups. First, procedural matters and legal organisation and second an increase in resources.

Where procedural matters are concerned, we must seek to save time during hearings using all means, savings which will have repercussions on all the concerns expressed. If we are to achieve this goal, maximum use needs to be made of our Rules of Procedure and Evidence and, more specifically, pre-trial case management must be both expeditious and rigorous from the moment an accused arrives at the Tribunal. Such case management will, in addition, allow a schedule binding the parties to be set. It goes without saying that the rights of the accused will have to be respected when fixing the schedule. All the legal forces around the Judges will have to immerse themselves completely in case management and I will encourage them to do so.

In terms of legal organisation, and this incorporates case management, more efficient use must be made of all our resources, including our human resources.

For example, we have three courtrooms and we must exploit them to the full. This however would only be possible by taking into account the Judges’ schedules and by rationalising them where need be. Of course, the Judges sit in court during the hearings but they must also deliberate, do research and draft their judgements. A way must be found to reconcile the optimal use of the courtrooms with the Judges’ duties so as to eliminate all the downtime and thereby allow the Judges to render Judgements soon after trials have ended.

My goal is to have the three Trial Chambers each hear two cases concurrently this year.

I admit that this is an ambitious program but this in turn leads me onto the subject of an increase in resources and my trip to New York during which, like my predecessors before me, I will insist on the full co-operation of States whether in carrying out arrests or in producing evidence.

An increase in resources would first provide better legal support for the Judges. In this respect, we have already obtained additional posts for legal officers who will be attached to each of the Trial Chambers and to the Appeals Chamber over the coming year. An increase in resources will however also make it possible to acquire the services of additional Judges though it is as yet too early to respond to questions on the character of such Judges before having demonstrated that all our resources are being utilised to the maximum.

You will have understood that all our energies must be mobilised to render the justice expected of us. The format of the Tribunal was laid out nearly seven years ago and many things have occurred since which make a general re-evaluation of the situation both necessary and urgent.

Of course, there are several other topics which I would have liked to have touched on today(…). I have instead chosen to reveal to you today the immediate prospects of this ad hoc Tribunal which must not only respond to the hopes placed in it to contribute to the total re-establishment of peace in the former Yugoslavia but which must also set an exemplary precedent for the future International Criminal Court."



International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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