SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES PROPOSED STRATEGY FOR TRANSFER TO NATIONAL COURTS OF CERTAIN CASES INVOLVING HUMANITARIAN CRIMES IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

23 July 2002
SC/7461

SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES PROPOSED STRATEGY FOR TRANSFER TO NATIONAL COURTS OF CERTAIN CASES INVOLVING HUMANITARIAN CRIMES IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

23/007/2002
Press ReleaseSC/7461

Security Council

4582nd Meeting* (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL ENDORSES PROPOSED STRATEGY FOR TRANSFER TO NATIONAL COURTS

OF CERTAIN CASES INVOLVING HUMANITARIAN CRIMES IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

Report by International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia Reviews

Prospects for Trial of Mid-Level Accused by ‘Competent National Jurisdictions’

The Security Council today welcomed the report on the judicial status of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the prospects for referring certain cases to national courts, submitted by the President of the Tribunal on 10 June.

In a statement (document S/2002/PRST/21) read out by its President, Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom), the Council endorsed the report’s broad strategy for the transfer of cases involving intermediary and lower-level accused to competent national jurisdictions as the best way of allowing the Tribunal to achieve its current objective of completing all trial activities at first instance by 2008.

The Council also invited States and relevant international and regional organizations to contribute as appropriate to the strengthening of national judicial systems of the States of the former Yugoslavia to facilitate the implementation of that policy.

In addition, the Council took note of the recommendations of the Tribunal regarding the creation, as proposed by the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina, of a specific chamber, within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to deal with serious violations of international humanitarian law.  The Council was ready to look constructively and positively at that matter when more details of the proposed arrangements were available.

The Council also took note of the intention of the Tribunal to amend its Rules of Procedure and Evidence to facilitate the referral of cases to competent national jurisdictions.

The meeting, which began at 1:02 p.m., adjourned at 1:06 p.m.

Background

The report of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, attached to a letter dated 17 June from the Secretary-General addressed to the

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*     The 4581st meeting was closed.

President of the Security Council (S/2002/678), has been jointly prepared by the President of the Tribunal, the Prosecutor and the Registrar.  In it, the Tribunal outlines certain measures that it believes it must take if it is to be in a position to achieve the objective of completing all trial activities at first instance by 2008.

The first measure is to concentrate on the prosecution and trial of the highest-ranking political, military and paramilitary leaders suspected of being responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991.  The second measure, which is complementary to the first, is to transfer cases involving mid-level accused –- those who, while they were not the principal political, military and paramilitary leaders, are nevertheless alleged to have exercised a measure of leadership or control -- to national courts for prosecution and trial.

It is envisaged that the cases against several accused who are currently detained under the authority of the International Tribunal might possibly be transferred to national courts for prosecution and trial in this way.  So might cases involving some further 50 individuals against whom the Prosecutor anticipates submitting indictments by the time she has completed the investigatory part of her mandate, in 2004.

In view of the location where the crimes concerned are alleged to have been committed, all of these cases would be referred for prosecution and trial to the national courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  However, the Tribunal emphasizes that it would be in a position to refer cases to a State for prosecution and trial only if it were known that its courts would be able to handle those cases effectively and consistently, with internationally recognized standards of human rights and due process. 

The Tribunal notes that, according to information at its disposal, the judicial systems in Bosnia and Herzegovina exhibit a number of serious shortcomings in those respects.  The Tribunal is consequently of the view that it would not be possible for it to refer cases to the national jurisdictions of that State as they are currently organized and functioning. 

At the same time, the Tribunal considers that the newly established State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina has the potential to be an appropriate forum to which it might refer cases for prosecution and trial.  To that end, the Tribunal recommends that a division be created within the State Court with specific responsibility for the conduct of cases involving serious violations of international humanitarian law in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  It further recommends that, at least for an initial period, this division should be composed of both international and national judges.  The Tribunal also outlines certain measures that would need to be adopted within the Bosnian legal system, as well as certain practical arrangements that would need to be put in place, before any transfers of cases could occur.

If these recommendations were implemented and these measures and arrangements put in place, the Tribunal considers that it would then be in a position to transfer cases against mid-level accused to the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for prosecution and trial.  The Tribunal seeks the endorsement of the Security Council for this broad programme of action.  Should the Security Council confer such endorsement, the Tribunal would then proceed to adopt the necessary amendments to its Rules of Procedure and Evidence. 

Transfers of cases to the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina would commence once it had been verified that all necessary corresponding measures had been adopted within the Bosnian legal system and all necessary practical arrangements put in place.

Text of Presidential Statement

Presidential statement S/2002/PRST/21 reads, as follows:

“The Security Council welcomes the report on the judicial status of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia [ICTY] and the prospects for referring certain cases to national courts (S/2002/678) submitted by the President of the Tribunal on 10 June 2002.

“The Council recognizes, as it had done on other occasions (for example, in its resolution 1329 (2000) of 30 November 2000), that the ICTY should concentrate its work on the prosecution and trial of the civilian, military and paramilitary leaders suspected of being responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991, rather than on minor actors.

“The Security Council, therefore, endorses the report’s broad strategy for the transfer of cases involving intermediary and lower-level accused to competent national jurisdictions as likely to be in practice the best way of allowing the ICTY to achieve its current objective of completing all trial activities at first instance by 2008.  The Council invites States and relevant international and regional organizations to contribute as appropriate to the strengthening of national judicial systems of the States of the former Yugoslavia in order to facilitate the implementation of this policy.

“The Security Council takes note of the recommendations of the ICTY with regard to the creation, as proposed by the High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, of a specific Chamber, within the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to deal with serious violations of international humanitarian law.  The Security Council is ready to look constructively and positively at this matter when more details of the proposed arrangements are available.  The Council also takes note of the intention of the ICTY to amend its Rules of Procedure and Evidence in order to facilitate the referral of cases to competent national jurisdictions.

“The Security Council will remain seized of this matter.”

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For information media. Not an official record.