Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

COURTSIDE: New Judges Double Tribunal Capacity

The United Nations General Assembly appoints 27 ad-litem judges to boost the benches at The Hague court.

The tribunal gained important reinforcements last week when the United Nations General Assembly appointed 27 ad-litem judges to boost the benches at The

Hague court. The move will significantly reduce the time defendants have to wait in custody for their trials to begin.

The ad-litem judges will "double the judiciary capacities" and allow up to six trials to run concurrently. The first judges are due to arrive in late August, enabling three new trials - for crimes in Mostar, Bosanski Samac and Visegrad - to start on September 10.

The trial chamber for each of these cases will comprise one permanent and two ad-litem judges.

In addition to presiding over trials, permanent judges take part in the confirmation of indictments, adopt the rules of procedure and evidence, decide appeals and rule on motions between disputing sides. By contrast, ad-litem judges will deal exclusively with trials and their involvement will end with the passing of a verdict and, if appropriate, a sentence.

A maximum of nine ad-litem judges will be able to attend The Hague atb any one time. They will be named by the UN General Assembly, on the recommendation of the tribunal president and the UN Secretary General.

During their time at The Hague they will enjoy the same rights and privileges as permanent judges, including the $16,000 a month salary.

Thirteen of the 27 judges are from Europe, including for the first time three from Eastern Europe - Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Ukraine. The rest come from Africa (6), Asia (5), Latin America (2), and North America (1).

Eight of the new appointees are women. Of the 14 permanent judges to be appointed on November 17, 2001, only one is a woman - the former vice-president of the tribunal, Judge Florence Mumba from Zambia.

Three former permanent judges are included in the 27 ad-litem ones. Lal Chand Vohrah from Malaysia has sat at the tribunal since its foundation but did not apply for a third permanent judge's mandate, which would have commenced in November 2001.

Mohamed Al-Habib Fassi Fihri from Morocco and Rafael Nieto-Navia from Colombia did seek to renew their mandates as permanent judges, but failed to secure enough votes. Posts as ad-litem judges come as something of a "consolation prize".

One of the most interesting details to come out of the UN General Assembly process was the participation, for the first time, of the Mexican representative. Previously Mexico has abstained from voting for tribunal judges on the grounds that the country disapproved of the way the UN Security Council went about setting up ad-hoc courts.

The Mexican representative reiterated the principal objections last week, but said he would participate in the voting because his country "recognised the contributions the tribunals had made in ...bringing justice to those responsible for serious crimes of international relevance".

Mirko Klarin is IWPR senior editor for the war crimes tribunal and editor-in-chief of SENSE News Agency.