Kosovo Votes for New War Crimes Court

Yesterday, Kosovo’s parliament voted in favour of changing the constitution, allowing for the creation of an ad hoc war crimes court, to try ethnic Albanian former guerillas for alleged war crimes committed during and shortly after the war with Serbia in 1999.

Kosovo Liberation Army fighters ©AP

Kosovo Liberation Army fighters ©AP

The 120-seat legislature voted 82-5 in favor of the change, with several abstentions.

During the war, Kosovo Albanian rebels fought to make Kosovo independent from Serbia. In 2010, a special investigation team concluded that there was hard evidence of kidnapping, torture and murder by the rebels.

The report accused some members of the ethnic Albanian insurgency, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), of abductions, beatings, summary executions, and in some cases, the forced removal of human organs on Albanian territory during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. The report named some individuals currently in the Kosovo government, including Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

At the time of the conclusions of the investigation, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), established in 1993 to try all war crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia, did not take on any more new cases.

On Friday, Kosovo’s government had asked parliament to reconsider its rejection of an ad hoc court, after parliament had voted against creating the court on 26 June. Many Kosovo Albanians see the war crimes court as an attempt to tarnish their 1998-99 guerrilla war against Serbia’s repressive rule.

The new court will most likely be located in The Hague, although the Dutch government is still waiting for an official request from Kosovo.

Yugoslavia Tribunal: Legacy of War

By Eduardo Reyes*

ICTYThe end is near for the groundbreaking international tribunal established to try alleged crimes committed in the conflicts of the former Yugoslavia. Eduardo Reyes travelled to The Hague to assess its achievements.

There was a time in the mid-1990s when it seemed the main legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) would be the fact that it had been constituted and issued indictments.

The first court of its kind since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, it faced an enormous obstacle that those predecessor tribunals did not. In many cases, its indictees remained politically powerful, well connected and at large.

Where the areas in which the indictees lived had been pacified, such was the fragile nature of peace it was widely believed their apprehension risked restarting a conflict that had left more than 100,000 dead in Bosnia and Herzegovina alone. Continue reading

ADC-ICTY and ICLB Mock Trial

Dates: 6 July – 11 July 2015

Venue: ICTY, Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW The Hague

ADC-ICTY-300x300The Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before The International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia (ADC-ICTY) is organising another Mock Trial this year with the support of the International Criminal Law Bureau. The Mock Trial is a one-week event hosted by the ADC-ICTY in The Hague. The week includes hands-on evening sessions for young professionals in the field of international criminal law and a one-day Mock Trial exercise in the ICTY courtroom in front of ICTY Judges and Counsel.

The evening sessions focus on practical skills and expertise and are given by experienced Defence Counsel to prepare participants for a career in international criminal law. Topics include “legal drafting”, “oral trial advocacy”, “opening and closing statements” and “ethics in international criminal law”.  Participants will be requested to make written filings in teams as well as perform in the courtroom on the day of the Mock Trial.

Participants will be allocated to one Prosecution team and three Defence teams, or play one of the two witnesses or one of the three accused.

The deadline for applications is 15 May 2015. For application or any other queries, please contact the ADC-ICTY Head Office. For more information, see the Mock Trial Flyer and Programme 2015.

ADC-ICTY Advocacy Training Sessions 2015

ADC ICTYThe ADC-ICTY (Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before The International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia) is organising a number of advocacy training sessions in 2015, focusing on a variety of essential topics in the practice of international criminal law. These are one-day events taking place at the ICTY in The Hague, presented by renowned Defence Counsel and ADC-ICTY members. Certificates are awarded and the sessions count towards CLE credits.

  • 25 April 2015:  Colleen Rohan – Drafting Trial Motions, Final Briefs and Appeals
  • 16 May 2015:  Christopher Gosnell – Preparing Oral Arguments
  • 6 June 2015:  Marie O’Leary – Witness Proofing
  • 22 August 2015:  Dragan Ivetić – Expert Witnesses

 For further information, click here.

ICTY Marks International Women’s Day

150309_IWD-logoAmong international mobilization for 2015 International Women’s Day, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has decided to seize the opportunity to “reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”

The ICTY released today a short video in which ICTY President Theodor Meron and representatives of the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry highlight the Tribunal’s ground-breaking work on the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of crimes of sexual and gender-based violence.

“For many centuries, rape and other forms of sexual violence committed in the context of armed conflict were often seen as an inevitable and even legitimate by-product of war,” said President Meron. “Now, however, and thanks in great part to the work of the Tribunal, such brutal and appalling acts are seen for what they are: alleged crimes, for which accountability can and must be sought. This represents a remarkable achievement not just for the ICTY but for women and men of conscience everywhere.”

In the press release accompanying the video, it is reminded that almost half of the cases at the Tribunal have dealt with instances of sexual and gender-based violence — mainly, but not exclusively, against women. In the context of these cases, the Tribunal’s Judges have issued a number of landmark rulings, including rulings recognising the crime of rape may constitute a form of torture (Prosecutor v. Mucić et al.) and sexual enslavement may constitute a crime against humanity (Prosecutor v. Kunarac et al.).

The ICTY has also set key practical and procedural precedents related to the treatment of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. The ICTY’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, for example, do not require corroboration of the testimony of a victim of sexual violence. Consent is not recognised if the circumstances in which it was given are deemed coercive by the Judges. In addition, protective measures – such as protection of name, face and voice, or closed session testimony – are used to protect victims’ identity.

Event: ADC-ICTY Advocacy Training

ADC-ICTY-300x300The ADC-ICTY is organising an Advocacy Training with Michael G. Karnavas on “Evidence and Objections – direct & cross-examination” on Saturday 28 March 2015 at the ICTY. The training will be held in the press room and will last from 9:30 am until 5:00 pm.

The registration fee for ADC interns, staff and members is 15 Euros, for external participants 25 Euros. To register, please send an email to: adcicty.headoffice@gmail.com

ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference Publication

ADC-ICTY-300x300The ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference took place on Friday 29 November 2013 in The Hague.

The keynote speech was delivered by H.E. Judge Theodor Meron, ICTY President. Speakers and moderators included The Right Hon. Lord Iain Bonomy, Judge Bakone Justice Moloto, Judge Howard Morrison, as well as renowned Defence Counsel.

The ADC-ICTY has published the conference proceedings in the form of a Legacy Conference Publication in 2015. The publication contains the transcripts of the conference as well as additional articles and is available here.

ICTY: Appeals Chamber Upholds Convictions in the Popović et al. Case

ICTY

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

Today, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) completed its largest case to date. The Appeals Chamber issued its Judgment in the Popović et al case, upholding the convictions of five senior Bosnian Serbian military officials for crimes perpetrated by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 following the takeover of the protected areas of Srebrenica and Žepa.

The case concerned crimes committed in July 1995 after the fall of Srebrenica and Žepa in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Trial proceedings involved a total of seven accused, who were convicted for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of wars, in part through several Joint Criminal Enterprises. Five of the accused appealed to the judgment of the Trial Chamber. Continue reading

Event: ADC-ICTY Annual Training

ADC-ICTY-300x300On Saturday 8 November 2014, the Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ADC-ICTY) is organising its annual training for members. Due to the large success of the Legacy Conference last year, this year’s training will also be open to external participants. The training will focus on the important topic of “Ethics” and will feature three panel discussions on ethical issues during pre-trial, trial and appeal. Participants may also obtain a certificate for continuing legal education (CLE) purposes.

The training will take place at the Bel Air Hotel in The Hague and will be an all-day event from 9:00 to 17:00. All participants are invited to the annual party at Hudson’s Bar and Kitchen afterwards.

The training is free of charge. There are limited places available and to register, please send an email to iduesterhoeft@icty.org with your full name and current place of employment/study.

A detailed programme of the training is available here.

Opening of the Srebrenica Documentation Center

Srebrenica Documentation Center

ICTY’s Vice-President Carmel Agius during the opening ceremony

Last month, the SENSE News agency has inaugurated the Srebrenica Documentation Center. The purpose of the Center is to show how the events in July 1995 in Srebrenica were investigated, reconstructed and prosecuted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Members of the many victims’ associations such as the Mothers of Srebrenica, political representatives from BH, the diplomatic corps and non-governmental organizations from Sarajevo, Zagreb, Belgrade, Podgorica and entire region were present at the opening ceremony. The opening attracted a lot of media interest.

Various representatives addressed the audience. Amongst them, the speech of the ICTY’s vice-president Carmel Agius caused a great deal of interest. The Maltese judge sees the opening of the Center as an important aspect of the Tribunal’s legacy and the best way to present the Tribunal’s work and to put the archives from The Hague to use. Continue reading