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Yugoslav Tribunal President to Discuss Future of War Crimes Trials during Helsinki Commission Briefing

Washington – The United States Helsinki Commission will hold a public briefing with Theodor Meron, President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), concerning the status of current and future efforts to bring justice to southeastern Europe after a decade of conflict dominated by war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The Path to Justice in Southeastern Europe
Tuesday, October 7, 2003
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
2261 Rayburn House Office Building

The worst atrocities committed in Europe since the Holocaust took place in the region of former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, eventually compelling international intervention which continues to this day. Among the international responses was the establishment in May 1993 of a tribunal – the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia–located in The Hague, The Netherlands, to prosecute those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

In recent years, the Tribunal has received considerable attention regarding the trial of former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic as well as efforts to apprehend persons indicted for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are still at large, especially Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic.

Theodor Meron of the United States has been a judge with the Tribunal since November 2001, and became its President in March 2003. A leading authority on international human rights and humanitarian law, Judge Meron became the first ICTY President to be officially invited by Belgrade authorities to visit Serbia, which he did in mid-September 2003 to encourage, in a spirit of cooperation, more progress on unresolved issues, in particular the arrest of those indicted for crimes who are not yet in custody.

Judge Meron will address the ongoing efforts of ICTY and the possibility of completing all trials by 2008 and appeals by 2010. In addition, he will discuss the advantages of transferring some cases for trial in national courts in the region and the challenges these courts will face in meeting international standards, including witness protection, fostering inter-state cooperation and garnering unbiased, independent judges.

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