Before: Judge David Hunt, Pre-Trial Judge

Registrar: Dorothee de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh

Decision of: 16 December 1999







The Office of the Prosecutor:

Ms Joanna Korner
Mr Michael Keegan
Ms Ann Sutherland

Counsel for the Accused:

Maître Xavier de Roux
Maître Michel Pitron


1. On 29 October 1999, as Pre-Trial Judge, I varied the time limits set by the Order for Filing Motions in this case by ordering that the time limit for the Prosecutor’s response to motions filed by the accused in the French language shall not commence to run until the receipt by the Prosecutor of a translation of that document into the English language.1

2. That Order was based upon the information supplied by the Conference and Language Services Section of the Tribunal ("CLSS") that, due to lack of personnel, it was not in a position to translate substantial filings in the French language into the English language without the risk of more than negligible delays, whereas it did not have the same difficulties in relation to translating documents filed in the English language into the French language. I also took into account my own understanding – gained from experience in other cases – that many staff of the Office of the Prosecutor need to have French documents translated into English.

3. The immediate response was the filing of a Requête aux Fins de Traduction des Documents de Procédure en Français,2 which sought orders that the accused need not respond to any document filed in the English language until a French translation is received, and that the time limit for filing documents by the accused likewise should not commence to run until the receipt of a translation of the Prosecutor’s document into the French language. No suggestion was made of a need to have the documents translated, but I have treated the application as one to enforce the right, enshrined in the Tribunal’s Statute, that all persons are equal before the Tribunal.3 Whilst I do not necessarily accept that the right to be treated equally extends to both parties being entitled to receive something which one party needs but the other does not, I have nevertheless thought it appropriate in this case to apply a spirit of internationality to the application in an endeavour to avoid any unfounded suggestion of partiality on the part of the Tribunal.

4. The delay in disposing of this motion has been caused by the need for arrangements to be made by the Registry to ensure that sufficient resources are available within the CLSS to be able to translate all documents filed in one of the working languages of the Tribunal into the other working language,4 and that documents filed in the French language will be translated into the English language within the same time as an equivalent document filed in the English language is translated into the French language. Those arrangements have now been made, and all filed documents will in future be translated automatically. Understandably, the CLSS will be unable to produce translations of lengthy documents filed in either language as quickly as it is able to translate the usual filings in relation to motions. Where a party intends to file a lengthy document in either language (such as a Brief, or similar document), it will be necessary to warn the CLSS in advance to enable it to make special arrangements.

5. As the length of time the translations will take remains uncertain (except that translations from each language into the other will take the same time for equivalent documents), and as it is by now apparent that each of the parties to the present proceedings will continue (as is their right) to file documents in different working languages, it is appropriate for the Order for Filing Motions in this case (dated 31 August 1999) to be varied –

(i) by deleting the variation made on 26 October 1999, and

(ii) by amending Order (2) made on 31 October 1999 so that it now reads:

Unless specifically ordered otherwise, the receiving party has fourteen calendar days from the receipt by that party of a translation of the motion into the working language in which that party has been filing its documents in these proceedings in which to file its response, if any.

6. The Order for Filing Motions leaves the issue of filing any reply to the response to a motion to be dealt with in the individual case, when a similar order may be made, if thought appropriate, as to filing times. The purpose of requiring leave to file a reply is to prevent the waste of time involved when documents are filed in the guise of being a reply but which merely repeat (and sometimes elaborate) the submissions made in the motion. A reply is allowed only to permit the moving party to answer issues raised by the respondent to the motion which go beyond the issues raised by the motion itself. The application for leave must nominate the particular issue or issues raised in the response to which leave to reply is sought.

7. It is ORDERED that the Order for Filing Motions be amended as indicated in par 5.


Done in English and French, the English text being authoritative.

Dated this 16th day of December 1999,
At The Hague,
The Netherlands.

Judge David Hunt
Pre-Trial Judge

[Seal of the Tribunal]

1. cf Prosecutor v Delalic, Case IT-96-21-T, Decision on Defence Application for Forwarding the Documents in the Language of the Accused, 25 Sep 1996, par 11.
2. Motion to Translate Procedural Documents into French, 29 Oct 1999.
3. Article 21.1.
4. Rule 3(A) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides that English and French are the working languages of the Tribunal.