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

President Jorda's Reforms

Tribunal Update 181 Last Week in The Hague (June 19-23, 2000)

Jorda's report focused on the work of the trial chambers, notably the pre-trial preparation process and the conduct of trials themselves. The proposed changes would, the judges hope, enable the Tribunal to conclude its work by 2007 - at least to complete the first phase trials, if not all the appeals. The report concluded that should the Tribunal's work proceed at its current rate, the ICTY's mandate would need to be extended several times beyond that date.

The report recommended investing senior trial chamber legal officers with some of the pre-trial judges' powers to take judicial administrative decisions, such as setting deadlines and hearing witness depositions. Truly jurisdictional decisions would remain with the judges. Such a change, the report concluded, would make the pre-trial process more expeditious by transferring some of the judges' workload to the legal officers. The accused would see their case being dealt with "immediately following arrest, which is not always the case today," the report said.

Given the increasing number of cases before the Tribunal, the report's other major reform called for an increase in the number of judges. The creation of a fourth trial chamber would only be beneficial in the short term, the judges concluded. The preferred solution, the report said, was to create a "pool of judges", who could be called on as soon as a case was trial ready.

The judges would then sit for only that one trial. Such measures would increase productivity by at least 30 per cent and offer a great degree of flexibility in that the system could be activated only when needed. The Tribunal would also be able, the report said, to tackle the flow of cases regardless of how many came up in the long term.

The third recommendation concerned the work of the appeals chamber, which deals with cases from the ICTY and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The report recommended adding two new judges to the appeals chamber from the Rwanda Tribunal. These two additional judges would sit in The Hague to hear all appeals "whatever their provenance."

Jorda said the current pace of arrests - on average one per month - pointed to the possibility of all publicly indicted suspects being detained within 30 months. "Several dozen investigations are on-going which, when added to those already conducted and completed, will bring almost 200 accused to The Hague," he said.

With the existing framework of three trial chambers, but with a projected reduction of pre-trial preparations to eight months and judgement deliberations reduced to two months, Jorda suggested, "with the greatest reservations", the following schedule for those detained so far:

The four on-going trials (Kordic and Cerkez, Kunarac and others, Krstic, and Kvocka and others) would be concluded during 2001. Five trials, currently in the pre-trial phase, would commence in 2001 (Krnojelac, Simic and others, Galic, Martinovic and Naletilic, Brdjanin and Talic, Kolundzija and Dosen). Another two or three trials would begin in 2002 (Krajisnik, Vasiljevic and tentatively Nikolic).

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