Hague Tribunal Archive Centre Opens in Sarajevo
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The Hague Tribunal information centre was launched at Sarajevo’s historic Vijecnica city hall on Wednesday, giving people electronic access to the UN court’s archives with the aim of contributing to the development of transitional justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region.
An original Hague Tribunal courtroom was also installed as part of the display at the Vijecnica, which reopened in 2014 after it was shelled by Serb forces during the wartime siege of the Bosnian capital.
The mayor of Sarajevo, Abdulah Skaka, who inaugurated the information centre, said it represented another step towards truth and justice.
“The City Hall is a symbol of suffering, but also a symbol of the indestructability of our city,” Skaka said.
“The archive is important to researchers, students and the media, as well as victims, because it bears witness to their suffering in the past war, as well as punishment of perpetrators,” he added.
The president of the Council of Mayors for the Information Center, Ivo Komsic, said that making the archives publicly accessible was a great moment for the city of Sarajevo and for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The archive is our future. We are not only facing the past, but the future as well. Without truth, there is no justice and without justice, we cannot face the past,” Komsic said.
Gabrielle McIntyre, chief of office and principal legal advisor to Theodor Meron, the president of the Mechanism for International Tribunals, said the UN court was a pioneering institution which made it possible to gather evidence and to determine who was responsible for the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.
“What the Tribunal has achieved, has been done away from the communities in which the crimes were committed. Therefore, I am particularly pleased that we have opened this centre in order to enable access to documents and experience one of the Tribunal’s courtrooms, where visitors can ask questions, deliberate and make their own conclusions,” McIntyre said.
She said that the understanding and awareness enabled by the access to information is of vital importance to future generations in order to learn from the tragic events of the wars and say “never again”.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia closed last year after having indicted a total of 161 people, 88 of whom were convicted of war crimes.
Eighteen were acquitted, while 37 indictments were withdrawn due to the death of the accused or other reasons, and 13 cases were referred to national courts in the former Yugoslavia.
The remaining work of the court, including appeals in the cases of Bosnian Serb political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, is being completed by the Mechanism for International Tribunals.