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Serbia: International War Crimes Tribunal

Volume 715: debated on Monday 7 December 2009


My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (David Miliband) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The International War Crimes Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Chief Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, delivered his latest report on the ICTY completion strategy to the UN Security Council on 3 December. One of his key judgments was his very positive assessment of Serbia’s co-operation with the ICTY. The Government warmly welcome this assessment.

The Government have long been amongst the strongest supporters of the ICTY, and of a clear policy of conditionality underpinning EU integration. It is important that all countries wishing to join the EU show their commitment to the rule of law and fully accept their responsibility to deal with the past, in particular by ensuring that all those indicted for the most serious of crimes face justice. EU member states have made it consistently clear that achieving and maintaining full cooperation with the ICTY is essential for progress towards EU membership.

We have had many discussions with the Serbian authorities about this over recent years. We have not been slow, when we thought they were not doing enough, to make our views known.

When the new Serbian Government took office last year, under President Tadic’s leadership, we were encouraged by their public commitment to do everything necessary to conclude this process successfully. We have maintained close contact since then with those responsible for the investigations.

I have previously made clear to this House that our assessment of full co-operation would be based on committed and sustained activity from the Serbian Government, demonstrating 100 per cent effort and political will in co-operating with ICTY. That co-operation should cover efforts in a wide range of areas including: tackling support networks; meeting requests for documents; allowing access to archives; ensuring protection of witnesses; as well as in locating and transferring the remaining indictees. The Government's assessment is that Prosecutor Brammertz's report shows this to be the case.

We congratulate the Serbian authorities on this significant achievement. We are discussing with our EU partners how the EU should recognise this. We will remain in close touch with the authorities in Serbia to underline the importance of maintaining this sustained effort, including to track down and deliver the two remaining ICTY indictees, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.