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Issue No: 242
October 29, 2011

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Strengthening War Crimes Justice Project

Photo: eupm.org

The successful conclusion of the 18-month War Crimes Justice Project (WCJP) to strengthen the capacity of national judiciaries in the region to handle war crimes cases was marked at an event in Sarajevo on October 26.

The WCJP is a four-million euro project funded by the European Union and carried out by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in partnership with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and OSCE field operations.

“This project was successful for two reasons - it provided the training and resources judiciaries really need to do their work in line with fair trial standards, and it targeted the full range of professional groups involved in war crimes trials, including judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers, investigators and witness support providers,” said Ambassador Janez Lenarèiè, the Director of ODIHR.

Judge Fausto Pocar of the ICTY stressed that the project has provided a unique opportunity for ICTY judges and legal staff to share experiences with their local counterparts: “This ensures that the lessons learned by the Tribunal are passed on effectively to current and future generations of legal professionals across the region.”

Štefan Füle, the EU's Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, noted that the development of justice systems in the countries of the Western Balkans in accordance with accepted rule of law standards, and the ability of those systems to effectively address their war crimes case loads, are among the key objectives in the European integration process:

“By funding this major project, the European Union supports the war-affected states in the region in advancing in this process,” he said.

“This ambitious project has considerably contributed to bridge the gap between The Hague and the former Yugoslavia, and this was done in full co-ordination with the local actors. I believe this is the primary factor which made this project successful,” said Jonathan Lucas, the Director of UNICRI.

Source: OSCE Press release.


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