Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
|OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR
|BUREAU DU PROCUREUR
The Hague, 7 October 1998
STATEMENT BY THE OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR:
"The Prosecutor does not accept the refusal by the FRY
to allow Kosovo investigations"
Up until the last few weeks, the Prosecutor has been undertaking investigations in relation to the events in Kosovo without any obstruction on the part of the Belgrade authorities. A team has just returned from Kosovo and it was the Prosecutor’s intention to supplement this team with other investigators. That has not been possible because for the first time the Belgrade authorities
had not issued visas in time for these other investigators to travel to Yugoslavia.
On Friday of last week the Prosecutor’s staff in Belgrade sought an explanation from the Belgrade authorities as to why these visas had not been issued.
In response the representative of the Foreign Ministry indicated that the official position of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) regarding the Tribunal and Kosovo is that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction to conduct investigations in Kosovo and the Tribunal will not be allowed to do so.
It was further stated by the Ministry, that the Prosecutor’s investigations in Kosovo represented a violation of the FRY’s sovereignty. The Prosecutor’s investigators would be allowed to move around in Kosovo but would not be permitted to conduct investigations. If such investigations were carried out in Kosovo, the FRY might reconsider its existing co-operation with the Tribunal
and in particular might reconsider the agreement relating to the Prosecutor’s Liaison Office in Belgrade.
The Prosecutor finds the position of the FRY Government to be totally unacceptable. Such a position ignores not only the express terms of the Tribunal’s Statue, but also with various United Nations Security Council resolutions and Presidential Statements which unequivocally state that the Tribunal does in fact have jurisdiction over Kosovo.
For instance, UN SC Resolution 1160, which was adopted on 31 March 1998, recognised the ICTY's mandate on Kosovo. The relevant wording of that Resolution is as follows:
"Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter:...the Security Council.....
17. Urges the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal
established pursuant to resolution 827 (1993) of 25 May 1993 to begin
gathering information related to the violence in Kosovo that may fall
within its jurisdiction, and notes that the authorities of the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia have an obligation to co-operate with the Tribunal
Further UN SC Resolution 1199, which was adopted on 23 September 1998, noted that:
"....the communication by the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to the Contact Group on 7 July 1998, expressing the view that the situation in Kosovo represents an armed conflict within the terms of the mandate of the Tribunal;..........."
and acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations the Security Council:
".........13. Calls upon the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,
the leaders of the Kosovo Albanian community and all others concerned to co-operate fully with the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the investigation of possible violations within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal;......"
Further, in response President McDonald's briefing to the Security Council last Friday, the President of the Security Council stated publicly that the Security Council reaffirmed the authority and jurisdiction of the International Tribunal over matters within its competence throughout the territory of the former Yugoslavia.
The Prosecutor believes that it is in the best interest of the FRY and of all people in Kosovo and Serbia, to allow the Prosecutor’s investigator's to fulfill their duties and thus to contribute to the establishment of the full truth about the conflict in Kosovo and the prosecution of those responsible for the crimes falling within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, as requested by the
UN Security Council.
In conclusion, the Prosecutor intends to pursue her investigations into the events in Kosovo and urges the authorities of the FRY to re-consider their position and to comply with its international obligations to co-operate fully with the Tribunal and the Prosecutor’s investigations.