President Gatti Santana hosts round table with Judges and officials of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Hague
President Gatti Santana hosts round table with Judges and officials of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina

The President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (Mechanism), Judge Graciela Gatti Santana, organised a round table with Judges of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Registrar of the Court and other officials, which was held today in Sarajevo. Also in attendance were two Judges of the Mechanism, Judge Carmel Agius and Judge Margaret deGuzman, together with Judge Joanna Korner of the International Criminal Court.

The objective of the round table was to discuss and share good practices from the Mechanism and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the processing of war crimes cases arising from the 1990s conflicts in the region. President Gatti Santana opened the event, expressing her hope for fruitful exchanges that may be of assistance to the judiciary of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She underscored that, in the current context of increasing genocide denial and revisionism in the region, it is more important than ever to strengthen capacity within domestic jurisdictions and build on experience.

The President of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Judge Ranko Debevec, thanked President Gatti Santana and her colleagues for this initiative, welcoming the opportunity to meet and discuss issues of mutual interest and best practices in processing war crimes cases.

During the first part of the round table, which related to judicial leadership and court management, Judge Carmel Agius spoke of the common difficulties faced by judges working in this area of law. He highlighted the importance of effective communication and collegial approaches within judiciaries, and how judges can more effectively manage trial proceedings.

The second segment of the round table concerned good practices in reducing the length of trials. Judge Joanna Korner addressed a number of practical aspects, such as the importance of procedural manuals, efficient presentation of witness testimony, and strong time management. Judge Margaret deGuzman also spoke about measures aimed at expediting witness testimony, including the admission of prior witness statements.

As part of the third session, regarding the harmonisation of case law and judicial practice, Ms. Emiliya Viktorova, Senior Legal Officer in the Mechanism’s Chambers Legal Support Section, discussed the role of binding precedent in the jurisprudence of the ICTY and the Mechanism, the practice of taking judicial notice of adjudicated facts, and the Mechanism’s Case Law Database.

Throughout the discussion, a number of Judges of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina shared their experiences and some of the challenges they have encountered in processing war crimes cases. Judge Minka Kreho, President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, highlighted measures that have already been taken to expedite proceedings. She and other speakers expressed interest in holding further exchanges with the Mechanism’s Judges on these important matters.