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American Commitment To The War Crimes Tribunal

Tribunal Update 44: Last Week in The Hague (September 15-20, 1997)

Scheffer stated that "America is totally committed to strengthening the Tribunal's capabilities with more courtrooms, more financial resources, more personnel and, if needed, more judges." Although he did not bring up the issue of the ongoing US-UN dispute regarding the so-called administrative taxes for seconded personnel, it is believed that the issue was discussed in separate talks held with Tribunal President Antonio Cassese, Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour and Registrar Dorothy De Sampayo.

During a press conference, Scheffer rejected claims that it was SFOR's responsibility to arrest those accused of war crimes. He nevertheless appeared convinced that suspects wanted by both tribunals "will eventually be brought to book." Exactly how this might happen he did not say.

Sheffer did however express the hope that "many of those indicted would recognise the utility of voluntary surrender." He also announced his intention to increase pressure on the governments in the Balkans to carry out their duties as set down in the Dayton agreement. This, he believes, will be another means of enforcing international justice.

In fact, Scheffer has already put this into practice. Speaking in Zagreb, on the eve of his arrival at the Tribunal, he gave a sharp public warning to Croatia. The country, he said, faces "a critical choice: either it makes every effort to fully cooperate with the ICTY, or it joins the ranks of those such as FRY which are locked out of the international community, out of the new Europe and out of economic prosperity." Until such times as the Croatian government has fufiled its obligations to the Tribunal, Scheffer warned, "both multilateral and bilateral economic assistance should be withheld."

Croatia's response was swift. The next day Croatia's Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa described Scheffer's conditions as "immoral". Croatia, Matesa stated, "will cooperate with the Tribunal ... but we won't trade anyone, nor shall we extradite our people for loans." Whether Croatia would be more compliant if it were to receive grants rather than loans, was not made clear.

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