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Madeleine Albright At The Tribunal

Tribunal Update 30: Last Week in The Hague (May 26-31, 1997)

Secretary Albright took advantage of her stay in The Hague for the Europe-US summit and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Marshall Plan to visit the Tribunal and talk to its Chief Prosecutor, Louise Arbour.

Her visit, without a doubt, is in itself an impressive demonstration of "renewed" support for the Tribunal and its mission from the US administration, while Albright's subsequent statement in a brief meeting with the press set the tone for the official announcements which followed by the end of the week.

"Make no mistake. There is no statute of limitations on the crimes that were committed in Bosnia and Rwanda, and no statute of limitations on American support for justice", said Albright in the Tribunal hall. She said this would be discussed at the ministerial meetings of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PICSB) in the Portuguese resort of Sintra (on Thursday and Friday), and that after that she would be travelling to the Balkans to "deliver a tough message" to local leaders-primarily Presidents Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia -"saying their lack of cooperation in this area [bringing the war criminals to justice] is a road-block to our increased cooperation with them."

Secretary Albright's promises were carried out in full. In the official declarations of the NAC and the PICSB the problem of the failure to hand over war criminals was treated more severely than heretofore, and afterwards Presidents Tudjman and Milosevic had to listen to some blunt messages on the subject from the US Secretary of State.

The week of tough messages finished with a very effective statement from Madeleine Albright at one of the crime scenes in Bosnia: in Brcko, where the Luka detention camp was established in 1992.

The camp's commander, Goran Jelisic was indicted for genocide by the Hague Tribunal in May 1995. Recalling that Brcko "was the scene of some of the worst violence and brutality of the war," Secretary Albright said: "Make no mistake, a price will be paid for the atrocities that were committed here. Until it is paid by those who perpetrated the crimes, it will be paid by those who protected them."

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