US: Women Needed On Bosnia Tribunal

UN WAR CRIMES BENCH

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

THE Clinton administration intends to press the United Nations to have women represented as judges and prosecutors on the UN's Bosnian war crimes tribunal.

According to United States officials, the inclusion of women is a key issue. The tribunal is expected to focus on the alleged organized rape of thousands of Muslim women by Serbs participating in the "ethnic cleansing" of the former Yugoslavia.

US officials maintain that the Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has voiced concern over atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslim women, supports their push for female representation.

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It is unclear how receptive the world community will be toward the effort. Women have never sat on the International Court of Justice in The Hague. "It is time for these international legal organizations to have the representation of women," said a Clinton official briefing reporters at the UN.

The issue of including women is just one of the many details that the UN Security Council will have to address after it passes a pending resolution on the war crimes tribunal now under consideration. According to US officials, the resolution is likely to include:

* The creation of the tribunal under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. The US says this move is unprecedented for a multilateral document because normally member countries would separately ratify the document as a treaty. By using Chapter 7, the UN puts the full weight of the members of the Council behind the resolution's enforcement, the gathering of evidence, and the carrying out of sentences. According to the US official, this strategy will ensure that all nations abide by the tribunal. Serbian lawyers in Belgrade argue any tribunal should be created by treaty.

* The speedy establishment of an independent prosecutor's office and a separate trial and appellate court. The US considers it critical that the UN quickly get the funds needed to set up this system.

According to Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's estimate, this will cost $31.2 million for the first full year of operation. The US government says it intends to look at the budget more closely to see if that much is really needed. By Mr. Boutros-Ghali's estimate there will be a staff of 300 people; the US State Department is estimating a staff of at least 100 individuals. A staff of 1,000 handled the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.

* No "in absentia" proceedings. The defendants must be present to be tried. If the Serbs, for example, refuse to hand over alleged war criminals, there is not much the UN tribunal can do. But as a US official points out, "If they are not turned over, they are imprisoned in their own land." The UN might also maintain its sanctions against the former Yugoslavia until all the defendants are presented for trial. The individuals named in any indictment will also have the international stigma of being consider ed criminals until they are tried.

Once the court is funded, the UN will have 60 days to submit a roster of international judges who would then be voted on by the Council.

Although the tribunals will be funded for four years, it is possible the judges could begin work relatively soon since some defendants are currently being held in Bosnian jails.

It is expected the maximum penalty under the tribunal's rules will be life imprisonment. There will also be a provision to provide compensation to the victims by guilty parties.

The tribunal would be seated in The Hague. US officials expect the actual trials to be conducted closer to the crime scene on the theory that having the trials in the region would save money and act as a salve for the ravaged area.

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