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Sarah speaking about the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

March 11, 2009 12:30 PM
By Sarah Ludford (on behalf of the ALDE group) in European Parliament

Madam President, we need to support, to its conclusion, the impressive work of the Hague Tribunal in bringing perpetrators of terrible crimes to justice and not impose an artificial cut-off, because time pressures would prejudice fair trials while shortcuts would harm the safety of witnesses. While many lower-level cases have been successfully transferred to national courts, some of them may be unable or unwilling to conduct criminal proceedings in accordance with international standards, which means that transfers are sometimes being resisted by victims and witnesses.

In order to permit the continuation of the ICTY's mandate, we urge the Council to encourage the Security Council to provide sufficient resources from its general budget, not least to be able to retain key specialists and highly qualified staff. The Tribunal must leave a sound legacy, both as a model for other potential ad hoc tribunals and in order to contribute to the strengthening of justice in the Balkan countries.

There is a need for increased EU support for domestic war crimes investigations and trials and for the Copenhagen criteria to include even more support for a well-trained and high-performing judiciary, but the legacy of that the Tribunal must also contribute to reconciliation and inter-ethnic understanding, and the work of NGOs deserves more resources.

Commissioner Rehn reminds us that full cooperation with the ICTY is a condition of EU accession but the truth is, as Commissioner Orban candidly told me last night in the absence of Commissioner Rehn, that there is no unanimity in the Council as to what that means. That has led to confusion and a consistent postponement of deadlines. Much as we all want Serbia and Croatia to join, the Council, Commission and Parliament must be united and firm in saying that inductees like Mladić and Hadžić must be delivered and, in the case of Croatia, evidence and witnesses facilitated. We cannot afford to relax these conditions.