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The operation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

After Ratko Mladic was arrested on May 26, 2011, the competent judge of the war crimes tribunal in Belgrade announced on May 27, 2011 that Mladic may be transferred to the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague. What exactly is the operation of the Yugoslavia Tribunal, especially now that there is also an International Criminal Court?

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is an international court for the prosecution of persons suspected of violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia from 1 January 1991.

  • The tribunal was established in 1993
  • The United Nations Security Council advocated the establishment of this tribunal.
  • The reason for its establishment was the observation that human rights were violated on a large scale in the former Yugoslavia in the years 1991-1995.
  • The Tribunal is located in The Hague.

 

Operation and jurisdiction of the Tribunal:

The functioning of the Tribunal is described in its Statute of the Tribunal.
The official name of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is: International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Human Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991.)*
This name simultaneously reflects the scope of its jurisdiction:

  • prosecution of persons who have committed serious crimes against humanity
  • in the area of the former Yugoslavia
  • the crimes must have been committed from the beginning of the year 1991

 

Charges can be brought against four types of crimes:

  • Crimes against humanity
  • Violation of the Geneva Conventions
  • Genocide
  • War crimes.

There is a combination of different criminal justice systems.
There is no jury as usual in Anglo-Saxon law. One witness is sufficient evidence. (This is in contrast to the Dutch judicial adage: one witness, no witness).
The judicial procedures are therefore described in the Statute

  • There are three Criminal Chambers
  • There is a chamber for appeal.
  • The official language in the courtrooms is English and French
  • Of course, sworn interpreters are available
  • The witnesses and suspects are allowed to speak their own language and all court documents are available in Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian.
  • The United Nations funds the Tribunal.

Results up to 2011

  • The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has prosecuted 161 people so far.
  • 125 people have already been tried
  • In 2011, cases are still pending against 36 people
  • There is only 1 person missing to be tried: Goran Hadžić

The Yugoslavia Tribunal can in principle be dissolved once all pending cases have been completed (including the pending case against Ratko Mladic) and Goran Hadić has been brought to justice.

The differences with the International Criminal Court and the Yugoslavia Tribunal

  • The International Criminal Court began its work in 2002. Crimes committed before 2002 may not be prosecuted, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia may prosecute crimes committed in or after 1991.
  • The International Criminal Court works closely with the United Nations but is independent of it. The Yugoslavia Tribunal is financed by the United Nations and therefore does not have that independence.
  • The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia only prosecutes crimes committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia from 1990.

) * (International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991).

read more

  • Being indicted at the International Criminal Court
  • The International Criminal Court: the crimes
  • Immunity or non-prosecution of criminal heads of state
  • Conviction and execution of (ex) heads of state