International judges victims of democracy

28 October 2009 by Nidzara Ahmetasevic and Erna Mackic

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) expressed “disappointment” at a decision by the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to reject a proposal to extend the mandate of international personnel working with the War Crimes Chamber and Organized Crime Department in the country. The October 1st vote means that all international staff will have to leave by the end of the year.

The War Crimes Chamber and Organized Crimes Department were established in 2002, within the State Court and the BiH Office of the Prosecutor respectively. They were set up by the Office of the High Representative, the chief civilian agency created by the 1995 Dayton peace agreements that brought an end to the Bosnian war. International judges and prosecutors have been part of these institutions since their creation, in order to guarantee their independence.

At the time, the ICTY was planning to complete all cases by 2008. But the tribunal is still ongoing and international staff thought their mandate in BiH could be just as easily extended. But they didn’t take into account the fact that the foreign presence in BiH courts might be perceived as a breach of national sovereignty.

Parties from Republika Srpska led the revolt. Dusanka Majkic, member of parliament from the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats voted against the extension of the mandate. “Bosnia can not be called a sovereign state unless it has local judges and prosecutors at all levels”, she said.

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