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New Sarajevo court to transfer expertise to locals

New Sarajevo court to transfer trial expertise to locals, Security Council told

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  • The planned Sarajevo War Crimes Chamber within the State-Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina will play a crucial role in ensuring justice in that country, the President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) said today.

    Outlining for the Security Council the progress being made in setting up the chamber, Judge Theodor Meron said, "The War Crimes Chamber will ensure that the prosecution of war criminals takes place in an efficient and fair manner and in accordance with internationally recognized standards of due process."

    Judge Meron was speaking at an open meeting of the Council on Bosnia and Herzegovina, during which the 15-member body also heard a briefing from High Representative Lord Paddy Ashdown, the senior civilian official in charge of overseeing the implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace accords.

    The Chamber would strengthen the rule of law in Bosnian institutions, since the experience local prosecutors and judges will gain in it would carry over to domestic law enforcement areas, he said.

    At present, "the local courts still suffer from significant structural difficulties…political pressures brought to bear on judges and prosecutors, the often mono-ethnic composition of the local courts, ethnic bias, difficulties protecting victims and witnesses effectively and lack of adequate training of court personnel," he said.

    A donors' conference to be held later this month for the ICTY in The Hague, added to two earlier meetings in Sarajevo, should put the Chamber's financial foundation in place, Judge Meron said. A series of working groups will then address such issues as rules of procedure and evidence, witness protection, investigations, detention and transfer of cases and evidence.

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