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Tribunal's Prosecutor Addresses Security Council on Completion Strategy Progress

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

The Hague, 7 June 2006

The Tribunal's Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, used the opportunity of her address to the UN Security Counsel to provide her assessment of the progress made in the completion strategy and to highlight the problems and obstacles hampering it. She focused her address on the steps taken or suggested internally by her Office in order to increase the efficiency of the Tribunal. This effort targeted three aspects of the Tribunal's activity:

- the Prosecutor's initiative to join cases with a similar crime base;

- her second initiative, taken under the pressure of the completion strategy and despite the strong resistance of some victim groups, was to propose the transfer of cases involving mid-and lower-level perpetrators to the national courts;

- an finally the Prosecutor's suggestions regarding all possible measures to ensure that the Tribunal's own process is as efficient as possible; in this regard since 2003 several packages of reforms were put forward by her Office.

In her address, the Prosecutor referred to the decision taken at a Plenary of Tribunal Judges on 30 May 2006, in which they adopted an amendment to the Rules that would allow a Trial Chamber to direct the Prosecutor to cut counts in an indictment. In view of the Prosecutor, such directions by the Chambers can only be interpreted as advisory in nature. Only the Security Council has the power to modify the Tribunal Statute, which guarantees the independence of the Prosecutor and assigns to her the responsibility of determining which charges to bring in a prosecution. Speaking in front of the Security Council, the Prosecutor urged again for all organs of the Tribunal to focus on the proposals made by the Judge's Working Group and by her Office.

Further on, the Prosecutor addressed the issue of the arrest and transfer of the remaining six indictees at large and also cooperation of states and entities with her Office. She underlined again that it would be inconceivable for the Tribunal to close its doors without trials of Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. Impunity for these two most serious architects of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both of whom are accused of genocide, would represent a terrible blow for the Tribunal and international justice as a whole.

The Prosecutor was critical concerning the level of cooperation provided by Serbia regarding the arrest of Ratko Mladić and in terms of Belgrade's responsibility to locate, arrest and transfer all six remaining fugitives. The cooperation provided by Serbia to the Tribunal has been and remains very difficult and frustrating. The recently approved access to archival materials and progress made in regard to the access to documents – are encouraging and testify to the fact that if there is a will, there is a way.

The Prosecutor explained at length in her report to the Council last December why Karadžić and Mladić are still at large more than 10 years after they were first indicted. Her assessment remains the same today. Serbia has to do much more to arrest and transfer Ratko Mladić. The arrest of Radovan Karadžić is a shared responsibility of Serbia and the Bosnian Entity of Republika Srpska, as well as NATO and EUFOR. It is pathetic that today, nobody is, as it seems, searching actively for Karadžić.

In her address to the Security Council the Prosecutor expressed her serious concerns with the lack of full cooperation by a sister organisation of the Tribunal, namely the UN Mission in Kosovo.

The full text of the speech