ICTY begins project to strengthen region's courts

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Tuesday announced a collaborative project that will support and strengthen regional courts in the former Yugoslavia [press release]. The ICTY, partnered with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) [official websites], began the "War Crimes Justice Project" [ICTY backgrounder] this week with funding provided by the EU. The 18-month program aims to improve the region's judicial system by hiring additional support staff, creating training materials, organizing peer-to-peer meetings among legal professionals and providing copies of court documents translated to Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian via the tribunal's Appeals Chamber Case Law Research Tool [materials]. ODIHR Director Janez Lenarcic explained the significance of the joint effort [press release], calling it "a key element in the transfer of responsibility for war crimes cases from the ICTY to national judiciaries." In light of the new project, Serbian Justice Minister Snezana Malovic [official profile] this week made a public statement emphasizing the importance of war crimes accountability [Vecernje Novosti report, in Serbian] and the country's ongoing cooperation with the ICTY in prosecuting alleged war criminals.

The ICTY has been active in the region's war crimes trials, including the genocide trial of Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive], which the ICTY announced earlier this month may take another four years [JURIST report]. The same week, current and former international prosecutors signed the fourth Chautauqua Declaration [text, PDF] praising recent advances in international law and urging countries to continue supporting the international courts [JURIST report] in order to maintain the spirit of the Nuremburg Principles [text]. The prosecutors, who have worked with the ICTY, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) [official websites], as well as the International Military Tribunals, called for continued support and funding of the tribunals and courts as they continue working to maintain the rule of law. They urged countries to fulfill their obligations under international law by investigating and prosecuting, or transferring to the appropriate international court, suspects who violate international criminal law, including sitting heads of state.

 

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