November 2001





PIFWCs: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was formed on 25 May 1993 when the United Nations passed Resolution 827. It is an investigative, legal body aimed at bringing to justice those who committed crimes against humanity; crimes such as genocide, torture, ethnic cleansing, running prison camps and rape. In order to create a safe and secure environment, SFOR detains Persons Indicted for War Crimes (PIFWCs) when it comes across them in the course of its normal duties. Photo at right shows an ICTY exhumation team bringing to light the sad evidence of a mass killing in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).
In a press conference in Sarajevo on13 March 2000, Lord Robertson, the Secretary General of NATO, stated that "All those who have been indicted will eventually face trial in The Hague and the sooner they realise that they cannot escape, the better it will be. And, my clear message is that they should turn themselves in, and those who are protecting them should stop doing it now".

The role of SFOR

SFOR's mandate is to provide a 'safe and secure environment', and the presence of PIFWCs is a major obstruction to the peace process. There are both public and sealed indictments; the latter were introduced because civilian authorities were not detaining publicly indicted persons.
SFOR has the authority to detain, and transfer to the ICTY, indicted persons when they come into contact with them in the course of their normal duties. This was agreed by all the parties through the signing of the GFAP.
To date, SFOR has detained 23 PIFWCS. This figure does not include the 17 detained overseas, 2 that were killed during the detention process and the 22 who have surrendered themselves voluntarily. This means that 67% of publicly indicted PIFWC's have been accounted for. Arrests include General Stanislav Galic, who is accused of atrocities whilst in command of the Bosnian Serb forces, during the siege of Sarajevo. He was detained on 20 November 1999 and has since pleaded not guilty to charges of crimes against humanity. On 3 April 2000, SFOR elements detained Momcilo Krajisnik. He is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, violations of the Laws and Customs of War, crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. During the War, Krajisnik served as a member of the senior Bosnian Serb leadership.
SFOR restructuring did not imply a change in SFOR's support to the ICTY. Mrs Carla Del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor for the ICTY, said, "I have received assurance from COMSFOR (...) that the Tribunal will continue to receive the same high level of support from SFOR..."

Bottom line

The detention of PIFWCs is the responsibility of all signatories to the GFAP; in particular, all the law enforcement agencies within Bosnia and Herzegovina. 'Closing the book on past tragedies also means there can be no reconciliation until those who have been indicted for war crimes exit the stage. Steadily, SFOR is catching up on them, and they should know that it's only a matter of time.' (Lord Robertson)