Serbia: Karadzic arrest a major step but tribunal must be given time and resources to deliver real justice
Amnesty International UK today welcomed the arrest of Radovan Karadžić, saying it sent out a message that people charged with horrific crimes cannot run from justice. The organisation now calls for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) to be given enough time and resources to establish the truth and to secure justice for the victims of war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:
“The arrest of Radovan Karadžić sends an important message that nobody can hide from justice. It tells those charged with these crimes that the world will bring them to book; and it tells the victims that the world is committed to their getting justice.”
Karadžić had been at large for more than 12 years since being indicted by the Tribunal with command responsibility for crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including genocide and crimes against humanity in Srebrenica.
Amnesty added that while Karadžić must be brought to trial without delay, the Tribunal must be given enough time to ensure justice is done thoroughly and fairly. At present the Tribunal has been requested by the United Nations Security Council to complete its cases by 2010.
Amnesty is concerned that the Tribunal will not be able to try all those who have been charged but whose cases are ongoing by the 2010 deadline. As a result, indictments may be dropped due to a lack of time to consider all charges or appeals may not be considered.
Cases might then be referred to national criminal courts, where Amnesty has concerns about the quality of justice, ability to protect victims and witnesses, ability to locate evidence and the commitment to a thorough investigation and prosecution. In most countries of the former Yugoslavia a lack of political will, and sometimes even deliberate obstruction, continue to block the investigation and prosecution of war crimes
Kate Allen said:
“Karadžić must now be transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for trial without delay.
“The 2010 deadline must be reviewed to ensure that the Tribunal has time and resources to ensure that justice is done. All of those accused must get a fair trial.”
Of the 161 people charged by the Tribunal, cases against 115 have been concluded but there are still ongoing proceedings against a further 46. Two of those charged also still remain at large - Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadžic.
Kate Allen said:
“The Serbian government and other states must ensure that Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić are arrested and surrendered to the Tribunal for trial as soon as possible. The search must not end with the capture of Radovan Karadžić.”
Radovan Karadžic is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, and other crimes committed against Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 conflict.
The charge of genocide against Radovan Karadžic includes the murder of approximately 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. The indictment alleges that he also committed genocide, persecutions and other crimes when forces under his command killed non-Serbs throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, detained thousands of non-Serbs and transferred them to detention facilities set up by the Bosnian Serb authorities. The indictment alleges that forces under his command killed, tortured, mistreated, and sexually assaulted non-Serbs in these camps.
Radovan Karadžic is also charged with war crimes for the shelling and shooting of civilians in Sarajevo which resulted in the killing and wounding of thousands, including many Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and Children's rights.
Despite the fact that some people indicted by the Tribunal remain at large, the United Nations Security Council in 2004 called on the Tribunal to complete its work by 2010.