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Statement by President Jorda To The Plenary Meeting of the Peace Implementation Council.

Press Release PRESIDENT

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

The Hague, 24 May 2000

Statement by President Jorda To The Plenary Meeting of the Peace Implementation Council.

Please find below the full text of President Jorda's statement to the Plenary Meeting of the Peace Implementation Council on 23 May 2000 in Bussels.


Mr. President, Excellencies, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to speak to the plenary of the Peace Implementation Council - to whose task the Tribunal must make a vital contribution through its trying the main perpetrators of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

I am delighted that since my predecessor, Mrs. Gabrielle McDonald, stood before your assembly in December 1998, the Tribunal's situation has evolved significantly. Since that time, many accused, amongst them some high-ranking officials, have been apprehended and several new trials have opened.

I am nevertheless concerned by two problems which, I believe, constitute fundamental obstacles to the establishment of a deep-rooted and lasting peace in the Balkans and which cannot be resolved without your collaboration and support. The first problem, which my predecessors have already drawn to your attention, is that several high-ranking politicians and military officers remain at large. The second difficulty, which has emerged more recently, in particular with the significant growth in our workload, relates to the need to find the means which will enable the Tribunal to accomplish better and as expeditiously as possible its goals of justice and peace.

The Tribunal is operating at full capacity

First, allow me to present a very brief account of our activities. You will then observe that the Tribunal is operating at full capacity. I will also provide some figures in support of my observations.

Over the last two years, arrests have significantly increased. Out of 67 indictees, 37 are presently in detention at The Hague, 13 of whom were arrested over the last ten months. During this period, the Trial Chambers have tried 14 persons and rendered several hundred decisions in trial. To give you but one example, during the trial initiated by the Prosecutor against General Blaskic which lasted 26 months, the Judges rendered 180 decisions in addition to the final judgement. Over the course of two years, the Judges of the Appeals Chamber have rendered several dozen interlocutory decisions and three judgements on the merits. Above and beyond these revealing figures, the Tribunal's case law has evolved significantly and taken a definitive shape on essential points of international humanitarian law.

This success is firstly the result of the increased collaboration of all the States which through NATO, and more specifically SFOR and KFOR, are co-operating closely with the Tribunal in arresting the accused and gathering evidence. This progress relates also to the co-operation provided to us by the Balkan States, in particular, by the entities of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and, more recently, the Republic of Croatia. The Government of Croatia moreover has demonstrated publicly its desire for increased co-operation with the Tribunal. This was confirmed to me by the Croatian President during a recent meeting in Zagreb.

Two obstacles however are preventing the Tribunal from carrying out its peace mission fully

Even though the Tribunal is operating at full capacity, it still faces two major difficulties.

- Several accused, senior military and political figures remain at large. Some of them even now are performing public functions with impunity. In particular, I have in mind Mr. Milosevic and Mr. Ojdanic who are still in power in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a State which refuses to recognise the Tribunal's jurisdiction. Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic have not been arrested even though they were indicted almost five years ago.

These accused, political and military leaders alike, must, first and foremost, answer for what they have done before an international tribunal "guarantor of the peace and security of mankind". Due to the functions which they have carried out - or are still carrying out - they, more than anyone else, can truly endanger international public order and damage the peace in the Balkans of which we are all the guarantors.

- We must ensure that all the cases which we are, or will soon be, hearing are managed promptly and effectively. In this respect, allow me to share some figures with you. Thirteen cases pertaining to 25 accused presently appear on the docket of the Tribunal in the first instance; nine are in the pre-trial phase and four in trial. Twelve indictees are involved in appeals. In addition, the Prosecutor recently announced her intention to launch 36 new investigations relating to 150 suspects which would bring the total number of accused to over 200.

Admittedly, in order to cope more effectively with the considerable workload, we have amended our Rules of Procedure and Evidence several times over the course of the last two years. We have, for instance, created the position of pre-trial Judge whose role is to ensure the proper conduct of the pre-trial phase. We have also implemented the recommendations proposed to us by a group of experts mandated by the United Nations which provided us with a fresh outsider's look at the way we do our work.

Nonetheless, should nothing change - whether this be the criminal policy, the rules of procedure, or the format and organisation of the Tribunal - and, on the contrary, all the political or other factors continue moving towards an inevitable increase in the number of cases, our mission will not be completed for about ten years (not counting the appeals).

This is why as soon as I was elected President of the Tribunal, together with my colleagues, I began to reflect in general terms about how to try within a reasonable period of time all the accused who are, or who will be, in detention. Our conclusions appear in a report which has just been sent to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Many solutions are considered in it including the possibility of proceedings being held elsewhere, that is, having member States, including those of the former Yugoslavia, conducting the trials. Even though this makes case management more transparent for the local population and thereby furthers national reconciliation, this measure brings with it disadvantages and, in any case, appears premature.

The Judges are more inclined to adopt a flexible solution which would make it possible to expedite the trials without however upsetting the present procedural system or, naturally, infringing on the fundamental rights of the accused. This requires both accelerating the pre-trial phase of cases through partial delegation of those cases to legal experts other than the Judges themselves and increasing the Tribunal's trial capacity by having United Nations member States making available to it a pool of ad litem Judges. These Judges would then be called upon to hear cases selected according to how our future needs evolve.

Such a system should allow our cases to be considerably expedited and - should all the accused be apprehended - allow us to complete our work in less than half the time we would need today.

Permit me to emphasise the utmost importance of having a longer term vision of the development of our mission so that it may be accomplished as expeditiously as possible whilst respecting fundamental human rights. At stake, first and foremost, is the right of the accused to be tried without undue delay. At stake also is the credibility of our institution because if it does not accomplish its task within a reasonable time, the international support it presently enjoys and which it needs so much will fade away. At stake finally is the prompt return to a deep-rooted and lasting peace in the Balkans which will be found only when we have completed the work entrusted to us by the Security Council.

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate that your collaboration and support are essential to the accomplishment of our mission.

Thank you for your kind attention.



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