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

Del Ponte: Serious Challenges in Search for Truth

By Caroline Tosh in London (TU No 490, 23-Feb-07)
More must be done to search for the truth about crimes committed during the Balkans wars, the Hague tribunal’s chief prosecutor told an international conference held in Croatia.

Speaking at the Zagreb conference Establishing the Truth about War Crimes and Conflicts organised by the Croatian NGO Documents, the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Centre and the Sarajevo Research and Documentation Centre, Carla del Ponte argued, “It is certain that much more has to be done, and many more perpetrators must be brought to justice for the war crimes [committed in the Balkans].”

At the event held on February 8 and 9, Del Ponte also spoke of the limitations of war crimes tribunals, which, she said, “cannot establish all truth and all facts”.

She also implied that Serbian authorities were continuing to withhold important archives and documents from the tribunal.

“In Serbia, the authorities still cannot find where the Milosevic archive has disappeared [to]. Strangely enough, the war time archive of Karadzic has also disappeared without a trace. What a coincidence,” she said.

Yuri Afanasiev, the United Nations Development Programme Representative in Croatia, said at the conference that addressing past conflict was a painful process, but was imperative for restoring peace as well as citizens' trust in institutions that guarantee the rule of law.

Other attendees included the president of the Hague tribunal, Fausto Pocar; tribunal registrar Hans Holthuis; Croatian president Stjepan Mesic; and lecturers, artists and representatives of the Croatian authorities.

Local protesters gathered outside, and one held up a photo of Croat war crimes suspect Ante Gotovina, still regarded as a hero by many in the country.

Caroline Tosh is an IWPR reporter.

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