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France Signs 'Enforcement' Agreement With Tribunal

France becomes first member of UN Security Council to sign agreement "enforcing" Tribunal sentences on French soil.
On Friday (February 25) France signed an agreement with the Tribunal to "enforce sentences handed down by the Tribunal on French soil." Italy, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Austria have already concluded such agreements. But France is the first permanent member of the UN Security Council to do so.

The agreement comes only a few days before French President Jacques Chirac is scheduled to visit the Tribunal (announced for Tuesday, 29 February).

The agreement and Chirac's visit seems to mark a new era in co-operation and understanding between the Tribunal and the French authorities. Only two years ago, French Defence Minister Alain Richard denounced the Tribunal for administering "la justice spectacle" and threatened that French officers would "never testify in The Hague." (See Tribunal Update No. 68).

Louise Arbour, Chief Prosecutor at the time, responded with accusations that the French sector in eastern Bosnia had become a kind of a "safe haven" for suspected war criminals, who were free to walk the streets in full view of French soldiers.

A procession of high level French officials, including Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine, visited the Tribunal in 1998 in efforts to smooth over the dispute. French General Philip Morillon, UNProFor military commander in Bosnia, appeared before the judges in as a "court witness".

The only business outstanding remains for French SFOR commandos to arrest some of the more prominent fugitives from international justice - including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic - currently believed to be hiding in their sector in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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