Updated: 5 August 1999 Press Conferences


13 July 1999
1700Hrs local

Transcript of ICTY Conference

Good afternoon. For those of you who have followed the work of the Tribunal, you may think that my presence here in Pristina is of symbolic value. I took the position, as you may recall, last October and more specifically last January, that I was entitled to come to Kosovo with or without a visa, I am here today without a visa. I would have been perfectly happy to have one issued to me last January after the massacre at Gretca.

The International Community is involved, now I think as a matter of priority, in examining the rules to which we can instruction to be brought to Kosovo, into the region generally. I think our work demonstrates that, even though very costly, to rebuild a country in the aftermath of armed conflict, it is just as costly, and considerably more difficult to rebuild a society in the aftermath of war crimes. We continue of course to operate under the authority of chapter 7 of the Security Council Mandate.

This mandate is based on the Authority of the Security Council to oversee the restoration and the maintenance of international peace an security and we continue to operate, not only here in Kosovo, but in the region generally, that includes, obviously Serbia and Montenegro under the authority of that original Security Council Mandate. As part of this visit to the region, I have travelled to Albania, where we continue to have the office of the prosecutor, continue to have presence.

I accept my gratitude to the Albanian Authorities for the support they gave to the office of the prosecutor, at the time where they were pressed very immediate demands of a humanitarian nature, and they were ready, willing and able to answer the call that we made so that our work would not be neglected. I made the same comments in Macedonia where I was this morning. I believe that the success that we've had in bringing to completion, at least the first phase of an urgent and important investigation, has been done to the credit of those who gave up a great part of themselves, tremendous support and access to information at the outset.

I met this afternoon with Gen Jackson, and I am going to signal once again that the support that we have received from KFOR is, I think, unprecedented. I think that in all the work that will be studied in years to come, performed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.

The work that we have done in Kosovo since January, will probably be the most relevant testing for the prosecutor as an international criminal court. This is the first time that we will have acquired, accepted and required to bring forward, to becoming relevant in a real time environment to examine, analyse, process evidence of crimes as they were being committed and to bring charges in a manner that would also be relevant to the unfolding of events. I believe that the assistance that we received from KFOR will also be a case study for the kind of appropriate response that peacekeeping forces will be expected to provide to criminal justice in the future. I believe that this particular model is one, I hope will be followed in the future.

I had discussions also this afternoon with Sergio Demello. We discussed in particular, but in concrete terms, issues of complimentarity, the international community, including the International Tribunal would have never expected to perform all the tasks related to the prosecution of war crimes. We have shown here that we are determined to focus our work at the highest level of leadership, not to the exclusion of others, but I think it is pretty clear that we cannot do this work un-assisted. We therefore have to be in partnership with local forces and with the international community in rebuilding local institutions that will be in a credible manner, part of the work that we cannot possibly address un-assisted, so we have had discussions on that topic.

Those who have followed the work of ICTY, the first phase of our work was very intensely devoted to mastering a huge quantity of information, mostly through the evidence that was coming from the refugees. In many parts of the world, particularly in this region, at the same time we had an unprecedented drive to access intelligence, particularly from the military intelligence community. This work is on going but the second phase, essentially since the re insertion of the international community in Kosovo, our work has, and continues to be now, essentially one of preserving and collecting information from sites. We have forensic teams from many countries that have been loaned, essentially to the office of the prosecutor with the approval of the United Nations.

We are working of course with these teams of experts in trying to ensure that we get the best evidence available before a site is contaminated or become otherwise unavailable to us. We expect that this work will be ongoing at least into the early part of the fall. This is what I think we have on our plate for the foreseeable future. In this context I think that there is every reason to believe that we will, I hope once again in a timely fashion, be in a position to expand on the charges that we have brought to date. Thank you.

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