The Tribunal’s pioneering Victims and Witnesses Section was created to support and safeguard all witnesses during the time they testify before the ICTY. In order for the facts concerning alleged crimes to be established, witnesses play a pivotal role at the Tribunal. Their safety and wellbeing are of paramount importance.
As of mid-2015, more than 4,650 witnesses have testified since the Tribunal’s first trial in 1996. The annual number of witnesses and accompanying persons assisted by the Tribunal has risen significantly from the early years, reflecting the increase in the number of indictments, accused persons transferred in to the Tribunal’s custody and the number of trials. There are certain circumstances in which it is important and justified for witnesses to be accompanied by a support person for the duration of time that the witness is required.
Prosecution, Defence and Chambers Witnesses, 1996 - 2015
More than 4,650 witnesses testified since the Tribunal’s first trial in 1996
(as of 30 June 2015)
Witnesses are usually brought to testify on behalf of one of the parties represented in a trial: the Prosecution or the Defence. Almost two-thirds of all witnesses have, to date, testified on behalf of the Prosecution. About a third have testified for the Defence. Two percent have been called by the Chambers.
The successful prosecution and adjudication of crimes depends on witnesses that can testify truthfully and without fear of retribution. The protection of witnesses before, during and after testimony is crucial. It is noteworthy that the vast majority, more than 70 per cent of witnesses, have not required any protective measures.
Over a quarter of the total number of witnesses testified with some type of protective measure. The majority of these witnesses had their testimony conducted in open court with certain steps introduced such as the name being withheld from the public or the audio and visual broadcast of proceedings being distorted to safeguard the identity of the witness. Some witnesses gave testimony in closed session, meaning that only the parties were able to view proceedings. Less than a fraction of one per cent of witnesses have been granted long-term protection such as relocation to third countries.
Country of Origin
Judicial Protective Measures, 1996 - 2013
[under 1% have been relocated to third countries]
Witnesses have travelled from across the world in order to testify before the Tribunal, but it is the individuals from the countries of the former Yugoslavia who take the witness stand most often. Half of the witnesses have been from Bosnia and Herzegovina, 10 per cent from Croatia, and 13 per cent from Serbia. About a quarter of all witnesses called to testify are from countries outside of the former Yugoslavia.
The war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans in the 1990’s, were observed by both the young and old – about six per cent of Tribunal witnesses were under the age of 30 at the time of their testimony and 15 per cent were older than 60. The majority, more than 74 per cent were between 30-60 years of age at the time they testified. Of all of the witnesses, 87 per cent were male and 13 per cent were female.
The statistics presented here are current as of 30 June 2015.