ICTY isn’t coming to Vuk Jeremic’s UN General Assembly debate

Theodor Meron, President of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

Theodor Meron, President of International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

According to HINA Croatian news agency, “All three Hague war crimes tribunals have turned down the invitation to attend a discussion on their work convened for April 10 in New York by UN General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic, the president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Theodor Meron, has said.
Not only the ICTY but all three war crimes tribunals turned down Jeremic’s invitation, Meron said at a panel on the role of the Hague tribunals in the protection of human rights held at the Brookings Institution in Washington on Thursday.
Jeremic convened the discussion in response to certain rulings, which raises questions about the basic rules on respect for the rule of law, Meron said, adding that his participation would not make any important contribution to the condemnation of something he cared about very much.
US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp told Al Jazeera on the fringes of the panel he would not attend the discussion and that, as far as he knew, the US would present a statement together with several other countries in support of international justice and the importance of fair trials.
Rapp warned about attempts to ascribe to international war crimes tribunals bias at the expense of a people or collective.
Terms under which entire peoples, ethnic groups or political movements are responsible for a crime should never be included at war crimes tribunals, he said, stressing that in prosecuting war crimes it was always about individualising guilt.
In war crimes it is about individual responsibility and those individuals should be held to account under the law and based on evidence, and if someone is convicted, it is a signal to the rest of the community that it is not about the community but about the individual, said Rapp.
He said the two panels convened after the General Assembly session were composed so as to be entirely unilateral in criticising the work of international war crimes tribunals. He said Jeremic should have invited both supporters and opponents of the Hague tribunals.
Asked by the press whether the date of the session, April 10, was appropriate given that on that day in 1941 the Nazi-styled Independent State of Croatia (1941-45) was declared, Rapp said Jeremic’s choice of that date was cause for concern.
The horrors of World War Two, the Ustasha government in Croatia against which we fought until all were defeated… Those involved in the persecution of Serbs, Jews and others at that time are not people we should remember that day. Every day on the calendar has some implication, but we think Jeremic could have chosen a better day. We don’t want what happened recently to be linked with those events from World War Two, said Rapp”.

Indeed not only is Jeremic’s choice of the date for the UN General Assembly debate on International tribunals justice and reconciliation a cause for concern, but the fact that several Jeremic’s outrageous public statements, which seemed to belittle and twist the weight of the ICTY rulings of acquittals of Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, have definitely left a taste of Jeremic’s misguided attempts to impute politics into criminal justice.
Serbian politics in justifying the horrors of 1990’s aggression against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have often seen references to the horrors perpetrated against Serbs during World War II – a kind of justified revenge type of viewpoint. Surely, this cannot be permitted anywhere. The fact that many Croatians during World War II did not participate in these horrors, but fought against them is all the more reason why Serbia must not be permitted to promote the politics of World War II is such an abominable way.

Since it refers to WWII so much, Serbia would do the truth a great service if, instead of peddling coverups, it turned to its own WWII truth: Nazi occupation, Nazi puppet state led by Milan Nedic, keen collaboration with the Nazi regime by many Serbs loyal to Nedic’s government and in this enabling and facilitating the extermination of 94% of Serbian Jews by May 1942, instead of blaming it all on the German occupying forces.

Let’s trust that all the countries affected by war crimes, to be covered by the UN debate on 10 April (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Cambodia, Rwanda…), will get a fair hearing on that day and that the debate will not be consumed by Jeremic’s agenda of batting for Serbia. As I said in my previous post, when you have an obviously biased person with a narrow political agenda leading a debate, it is almost impossible to have full objectiveness of the debate process and content. Furthermore, reconciliation between people, which is on the agenda of this debate, does not depend on criminal court rulings for or against individuals, it depends on the people themselves and the resolution of issues and disputes among those peoples. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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  1. Reblogged this on Croatia Business Report.

  2. Singidunum says:

    Regarding the paragraph:
    […] Since it refers to WWII so much, Serbia would do the truth a great service if, instead of peddling coverups, it turned to its own WWII truth: Nazi occupation, Nazi puppet state led by Milan Nedic, keen collaboration with the Nazi regime by many Serbs loyal to Nedic’s government and in this enabling and facilitating the extermination of 94% of Serbian Jews by May 1942, instead of blaming it all on the German occupying forces […]

    Little question … why Croatia made part of Yougoslavia after WW2, if it was not to out of pure interest: to hide itself behind the winners and avoid paying for all the evil it caused to Serbs and non-Serbs. German Nazis were, according to my grandparents, real gentlemen compared to the cruelty of croatian ustase. Instead of contributing to the stability of the newly created home (Yugoslavia), strong Croatia chose to stab a knife in the back of the one who raised her from ashes.
    As for weak puppet state you mention, you probably forgot that Serbia lost quarter of its population in the WW1. But unlike Croatians, Serbs despite all the weakness inherited from previous WARS, still found strength to fight for its freedom paying in blood of its children.

    Serbs, who were exterminated together with Jews and Gypsies by Germans and Croates (one little example is Jasenovac concentration camp, operating in 1941-42), are not accountable to neither Croates nor Germans on this question. It is kind of ridiculous to put a blame on victims (Serbs, Jews, Gypsies) insteqd of taking its own responsibility (be it Germany or Croatia). Go to Serbia and look at its architecture: what was not destroyed by Nazis, was finished by allies. Serbian architecture is a good way of learning about Serbian sacrifices and suffering throughout centuries. But unlike its buildings, Serbs have incredible vital force and keep going on, used to live with injustice. But they know very well the difference between right and wrong.

    Let’s talk at the end of the role of law and justice. Fair practices in court are essential to reconciliation and establishment of long-term peace. Serbia, like so many others, has right to participate in the debates on this crucial question for its future: am I wrong? So why would you want to close that only door. You should be happy learning that it exists. Croatia earned, thanks to its great friend Germany, a ticket to paradise, so enjoy and spare your energy on Europe instead of focusing on Serbia. Accept your difficult past instead of giving lesson to Serbia on which day and what memory should our attention be focused. Sometimes, the dates are there as a reminder or warning, to those concerned, … not to commit the same mistake and remember what is good and bad in each one of us. Serbia has a right to tell its version, after 20 years of suffering. Intelligent people listen and decide what to believe. Thank you for posting my message!

    • Singidunum, no matter what you say Croatia has acknowledged its good and bad part in WWII and Serbia only the good. So there is a difference. Croatia had within it more WWII winners, as you put it than Serbia, you seem to forget that fact. Yeah, your grandparents called German Nazis real gentlemen, I wonder if that’s because Nazis were really nice to those who collaborated with them? Oh, Croatians accept their difficult past, they just find it unacceptable that other countries hide theirs by constantly pointing their fingers at others in order to hide their own. Intelligent people do listen and decide what to believe but when faced with real truth then there is no room for believing it or not – it’s simply there.

    • Singidunum – what an stupid and evil comment. It looks like you haven’t been through Croatia to have seen whole villages burned by Nazis in WWII because people went with Partisans etc. Croatia would have loved if it continued to be independent after WWII you numb skull. Croatia’s industry contributed much more to Yugoslavia (Serbia) than Serbia did. Serbia used their oppressive powers to occupy most high ranking army positions in Yugoslavia, most high public service positions throughout Yugoslavia etc. Get over yourself and start reading articles properly and start something in Serbia regarding the extermination of Jews there. MY GRANDPARENTS, fled Serbia at beginning of 1942 and TOLD ME that IT WAS JUST SO TERRIBLE TO WATCH SERBS DRAGGING AND IDENTIFYING JEWS IN BELGRADE AND TAKING THAT INFORMATION TO THE OCCUPYING NAZI FORCES. Similar stuff had most likely happened in Croatia under the Ustashe but at least Croatia admits it and Serbia still trying to keep a lid on the wrongfully written history – history written by Allies or winners as you say and Serbia’s King was a cousin to British king, and so it’s most likely that Serbia had help through those lobby groups to keep denying and hiding the truth about its 1942 proclamation of “Jew Free”state.

  3. Singidunum says:

    Yes, the last thing …
    It is quite easy to understand why criminal courts pulled out of the event organized by Jeremic. They would be obliged to dialogue and debate instead of impose their power. To hear a critique …. critiques.
    On the other hand, under the possibility of being discredited, why should they bother when the power is in their hands and no need to justify their work in front of anyone.
    But, absence, as presence speaks for itself. Those who wish to contribute to the justice and law were present, and that’s what counts for future generations. At least, hopingly …

    • Well Singidunum, the ICTY judges have nothing to debate when it comes to their judgments because they have published their reasoning for their judgments which is a public document for anyone to form an opinion on, but those opinions do not change judgments. Sorry, it would seem you want to confuse politics with court judgments and that is a no, no in democracy where courts are independent.


  1. […] Criminal Court, who had confirmed their attendance at the conference have pulled out of the event. Indeed the ICTY in all its three Tribunals on criminal justice have stated they would not be attending the “Jeremic” debate. Among those […]

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