UN not considering support for Iraqi tribunal – spokesman

22 October 2004 – The United Nations is not likely to lend support to a special Iraqi tribunal for reasons ranging from opposition to the death penalty to the lack of a mandate for action, a spokesman for the world body said today.

Responding to press questions, Stephane Dujarric said the UN had sent a letter to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) earlier this month concerning a request to authorize Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s attendance at a training conference for the judges and prosecutors of the Iraqi court.

The UN informed the ICTY that accepting such invitations would divert Tribunal officials from performing their normal duties at a time when they are aiming to meet mandatory deadlines for completing all outstanding work.

Legally speaking, the United Nations also questioned whether UN officials should be involved in the establishment of a Tribunal that is not a UN body, Mr. Dujarric added. “In this case, we have no specific mandate from a competent political organ of the United Nations.”

He also said the UN noted “serious doubts regarding the capability of the Iraqi Special Tribunal to meet the relevant international standards,” citing the Secretary-General’s position that UN officials should not be directly involved in lending assistance to any court or tribunal that is empowered to impose the death penalty.

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