The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) has sent a letter to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), requesting that the Office of the Prosecutor resume its investigations in the four cases the ICTY returned to the Macedonian authorities in 2008.
UMD sent this request as a response to the failure of the Macedonian judicial system to prosecute these cases in accordance with the rule of law. The refusal of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia to review the Parliament’s decision in 2011 to provide amnesty to individuals accused of criminal acts against humanity committed in 2001, is contrary to Macedonia’s obligations under international law.
“As a young democracy, Macedonia’s judicial system continues to develop, but sometime fails to administer justice in accordance with the rule of law. With respect to those cases related to the 2001 conflict, it is incumbent on the ICTY to ensure that justice is fairly administered and that the rule of law prevails,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski.
“The decision to prosecute only some, but not all of the cases from the 2001 conflict speaks to the lack of independence that the judiciary has from the political structures in the country. This is why the UMD sent a letter to the ICTY, asking it to recall the cases and to return them to the jurisdiction of the ICTY. The principle of primacy allows for the tribunal to reassert its jurisdiction and end impunity in Macedonia,” concluded Koloski.
The request to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICTY is based on the following:
• An amnesty for crimes against humanity and war crimes is invalid, because this is a peremptory norm in international law (from which there is no derogation).
• Since the 2011 decision by the Macedonian parliament grants amnesty to all perpetrators of crimes in the conflict in 2001, it shields specific individuals from criminal responsibility.
• Based on the principle of primacy, the ICTY should be able to recall a case, especially when it has not been diligently prosecuted and investigated by the national authorities. Furthermore, the law on co-operation with the ICTY also allows it to assert its primacy when the relevant national authorities are incompetent, unwilling or unable to process a case.
• The rules of procedure and evidence of the ICTY also allow for a case to be revoked when the relevant national courts cannot conduct a fair trial. These rules have been interpreted in this manner in ICTY case law as well.
Finally, UMD is well aware of the ICTY’s completion strategy, but it stresses the fact that if the ICTY in its current form cannot recall the four cases, the Residual Mechanism could. The Residual Mechanism is tasked with continuing the jurisdiction, rights, obligations and essential functions of the ICTY, as well as maintaining the legitimacy of that institution.
To read the full letter, please click HERE.