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

No Suspect Should Walk Free - Prosecutor

(TU No 467, 11-Sep-06)
Addressing the OSCE permanent council in Vienna on September 7, Del Ponte insisted more should be done to tackle cases of alleged war crimes which can neither be prosecuted at the Hague tribunal because of its completion strategy, nor dealt with by domestic courts in the former Yugoslav states because of various legal obstacles.

“Hundreds, probably thousands, of persons who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity walk free in the streets all over the former Yugoslavia,” said Del Ponte.

People accused of war crimes are not being made accountable, she said, because the tribunal, which is due to close in 2008, has finished its investigations and will not be handing out any more indictments.

In addition to this, none of the former Yugoslav states allows the extradition of nationals for crimes they are accused of committing in other states.

Among Del Ponte’s proposals for ending the “impunity gap” is a suggestion that the OSCE should arrange a meeting of justice ministers from all the former Yugoslav republics as a start to launching an initiative to change national legislation to facilitate prosecutions. Such a meeting, she suggested, would help foster the political will to change laws.

As one possible solution to the extradition problem, she referred to the European Arrest Warrant introduced in January 2004 which has replaced extradition procedures between European Union members. These warrants are intended to create faster and simpler procedure for transferring suspects.

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