UN prosecutor for former Yugoslavia says investing in justice brings best dividends

7 October 2005
Carla Del Ponte

Investing in justice for victims of the Balkans wars will bring dividends by discouraging revenge, obliging the region's countries to improve their governance and replacing myths with facts in the collective memory, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) says.

Addressing the financial services group Goldman Sachs in London yesterday, Prosecutor Carla del Ponte of the said the prospect of the former Yugoslav States joining the European Union (EU) had been the most effective leverage in convincing Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro to cooperate with the court.

"The Croatian authorities are working intensely on the last remaining fugitive, Ante Gotovina. In particular, they are aggressively investigating the networks protecting him. Since these networks are intimately connected to organized crime, for instance drugs and arms trafficking, the robust operation engaged by Croatia is also indirectly helping to clean the society of its worst criminals," she said.

Ms. Del Ponte said she had reported to the EU on Monday that Croatia was co-operating fully, paving the way for the opening of accession talks.

At the same time, she cautioned that the Croatian Government's actions are under scrutiny. "Should they reduce their efforts to catch Gotovina, the negotiations would slow down and may even be suspended."

Sending in UN peacekeepers cost over $3 billion a year, while European States invested hundreds of millions annually to create the infrastructure for receiving refugees fleeing the war and the EU and the United States have borne post-war reconstruction costs of billions of dollars, she said.

By contrast, "the yearly cost of the Tribunal is less than one day of US military presence in Iraq," she pointed out.

"However, the most important return that justice brings is immaterial," Ms. Del Ponte said. "My greatest hope is that… all these little pieces of truth that we have been collecting over the years will slowly but surely shape the collective memory."

 

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