“Protecting human dignity”

13 January 2010 by Sebastiaan Gottlieb

Antonio Cassese was the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and is now head of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL). He just announced that he will visit Lebanon in the coming weeks to complete the investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

He spoke to the IJT’s Sebastiaan Gottlieb.

Can you tell us anything about the progress of the STL?
We have a limited staff but we are able to work hard and produce quite a few things. We have not yet any case, as you know, and will have a trial only probably in early 2011. Meanwhile we are preparing all the practical and legal infrastructures, so that as soon as we have a case, we can proceed very expeditiously and we will not waste money or time.

Do we still need ad hoc tribunals like the STL now that the ICC has opened?
Yes, because there are cases where a country wants to get involved in trials. Say Lebanon, Sierra Leone: they say we don’t have the facilities or the necessary judiciary to bring to trial people who have committed horrendous crimes. We want an international tribunal to be established but we want to be part of that tribunal, so possibly the tribunal should be headquartered on our territory. Therefore there may be a situation where, in spite of the importance of the ICC, it would be important to set up a tribunal, which is tailor-made to a particular situation in a particular country.

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