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Implementing the Dayton Peace Accords:
The War Crimes Tribunal

Prepared by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, May 28, 1997

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In May 1997, President Clinton announced his intention to nominate David J. Scheffer as Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues. Ambassador Scheffer will assume global responsibilities for war crimes issues, including U.S. support for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), is a subsidiary but independent body of the UN Security Council which established it in May 1993 by Resolution 827. The Tribunal is mandated to investigate and prosecute those who committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia since January 1, 1991.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY is headed by Chief Prosecutor Justice Louise Arbour (Canada), who succeeded Justice Richard Goldstone (South Africa) in October 1996, and Deputy Prosecutor Graham Blewitt (Australia). The Tribunal Registrar is Dorothee de Sampayo Garrido-Nijgh (The Netherlands).

Judge Antonio Cassesse (Italy) is the Tribunal President. Additional Tribunal judges include Vice President Adolphus Karibi-Whyte (Nigeria), Haopei Li (China), Jules Deschenes (Canada), Sir Ninian Stephan (Australia), Claude Jorda (France), Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica), Fouad Riad (Egypt), Gabrielle Kirk McDonald (United States), Saad Saood Jan (Pakistan), and Lal Chand Vohrah (Malaysia). The UN General Assembly will hold elections for Tribunal judges for the next four-year term later this year.

The United States is the Tribunal's strongest supporter in total UN assessments and voluntary in-kind contributions, including $1 million for the Tribunal's exhumations program and an additional $450,000 subject to congressional notification. The Tribunal's budget for 1996 was $35,430,622 as approved by the General Assembly by Resolution 50/212C. In 1995, it was $25,300,000; in1994, $10,800,000; and in 1993, $276,200.

The Tribunal has issued 17 indictments charging 74 individuals with serious violations of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia. Eight indictees are currently in custody (four for crimes against Serbs and four for crimes against Muslims and Croats). The ICTY's first major trial, of Dusko Tadic (who was charged with committing crimes against humanity and related offenses against Bosnian Muslims and Croats in 1992, outside and within the Omarska detention camp in northwestern Bosnia) concluded in November 1996 and is pending a final verdict. Drazen Erdemovic, a Bosnian Croat who fought with Bosnian Serbs and participated in mass killings of unarmed Bosnian Muslims near Srebrenica in 1995, pled guilty last year and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment.

A major trial of four indictees (three Muslims and one Croat) for crimes committed at the Celebici detention camp in what is now the Federation began in March1997. The trial of Tihomir Blaskic, a Croatian commander, involving charges of ethnic cleansing of the Muslim-populated Lasva Valley, is to begin in May 1997. The Croatian Government transferred another indictee, Zlatko Aleksovski, a Croat who had been in custody in Croatia since last June, to the Hague on April 28, 1997.

In February 1996, at the Rome Conference, the parties of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia committed to the "Rules of the Road" project. Under project guidelines, the parties provide the ICTY with dossiers of pending war crimes cases in the former Yugoslavia.

The U.S. is financing international attorneys and translators to review the backlog of dossiers submitted by the parties and decide whether suspects should be tried in The Hague or in the former Yugoslavia. Other countries, such as The Netherlands, also are providing support and resources to the "Rules of the Road" project.

[end of document]

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