BELGRADE, 28 September 2010 - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today officially launched a major regional project aimed at strengthening the capacity of judiciaries to handle war crimes cases.
The four-million euro War Crimes Justice Project is funded by the European Union and carried out in partnership with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, as well as OSCE field operations in Belgrade, Podgorica, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Zagreb.
"This project is a key element in the transfer of responsibility for war crimes cases from the ICTY to national judiciaries. It is essentially about national ownership and capacity building - also in the context of European integration," said Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, ODIHR's Director.
Judge Patrick Robinson, President of the ICTY, added: "Capacity building of the national jurisdictions in the former Yugoslavia is crucial for achieving justice, peace and the rule of law. We will keep working together with our partners in the region and elsewhere to help that process."
The project focuses on transferring knowledge and materials from the Tribunal to legal professionals in national jurisdictions. The purpose is to address identified gaps in the professional capacities of practitioners and their resources in a manner that is both sustainable and appropriate in the local legal context.
The launch was followed by a meeting of ICTY judges with their colleagues from national jurisdictions handling war crimes cases to discuss common concerns and exchange views. Such peer-to-peer meetings form a key component of the project.
A wide range of other regional and national activities designed to facilitate the professional development of legal professionals working on war crimes cases, including defence lawyers, are planned throughout the project. Additional project activities include transcribing ICTY proceedings into local languages and translating the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber Case Law Research Tool for use by regional justice actors.
The War Crimes Justice Project will also develop, in co-operation with national judicial training institutions, curricula on international criminal and humanitarian law and a manual for defence lawyers, as well as various research and analysis tools. In addition, the project funds support staff in domestic judicial institutions to bolster capacity in areas such as prosecutorial analysis and legal research.
The project is funded by the European Union.