Letter to His Excellency Secretary General of the United Nations

United Nations
Mr. Ban Ki-moon

Your Excellency,

We are writing to you regarding recent developments that have significantly contributed to the erosion of the credibility of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The latest in a series of such developments was a letter by Frederik Harhoff, a Danish judge serving at the ICTY, published on 13 June this year in the Danish magazine ‘BT’. In his letter, Judge Harhoff notes his observations and suspicions that Judge Theodor Meron, the President of the ICTY, exerted impermissible influence over other judges during the decision-making process in three cases tried by the ICTY: Gotovina et al, Perišić, and Stanišić and Simatović.

The general public in the former Yugoslavia and particularly those in communities that were affected by war, view Judge Harhoff’s allegations as evidence of a mockery of justice by the most important UN tribunal. This is especially so, given that the publication of Harhoff’s letter coincided with a growing erosion of trust in the ICTY and its ability to ensure justice for victims of crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, which was triggered by the judgments delivered in the three cases noted above. Both the appearance of, and public suspicions of irregularities in the judicial decision-making process in these three cases serve to undermine the already modest progress that has been made toward establishing transitional justice mechanisms in the former Yugoslavia.

Convinced that the legacy of the ICTY will have a considerable impact on the process of reckoning with the past and thereby prospects for sustainable peace throughout the region, the signatories to this letter point out that the work of the ICTY is currently overshadowed by reasonable suspicions of irregularities and partiality in judicial decision-making in several recently delivered judgments. The possibility that some of the ICTY judges may have been guided by interests incompatible with the principles of justice and international humanitarian law when deciding on liability for the gravest crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia, seriously harms not only the reputation of the ICTY but also that of the UN, as its founder.

Judge Harhoff has never challenged the authenticity of the letter published in ‘BT’, nor has he retracted the opinions expressed in it. However, there has been no response to it thus far, only the veracity of his allegations has been questioned. It is because of all this that we, the undersigned, in the absence of any appropriate procedure in the ICTY Statute, urge you to use your authority to order a prompt and thorough inquiry, to establish beyond doubt if there has been a violation of articles 12 and 13 of the ICTY Statute, which guarantees the independence, impartiality, integrity and high moral character of judges serving at the ICTY. Without such an inquiry and the public presentation of its findings, doubts about the fairness of ICTY judgments will permanently mar the work of this important institution of international law. As a result,

development of international law as a whole would be irreversibly hindered and its undoubted achievements in the last two decades would be called into question.

Dženana Karup Druško, BH journalists, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)
Sandra Orlovid, Humanitarian Law Center, Serbia
Bekim Blakaj, Humanitarian Law Center – Kosovo
Mario Mažid, Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Croatia
Maja Midid, Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Serbia

List of signatures:
1. Adis Šušnjar, journalist, BH
2. Admir Salihu, lawyer, Kosovo
3. Aleksandar Saša Zekovid, human rights researcher, Montenegro
4. Alena Beširevid, journalist, BH
5. Amir Ahmid, BH’ liaison officer to ICTY, Netherland
6. Arman Fazlid, Web master, BH
7. Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
8. Bojan Tončid, journalist, Serbia
9. Boris Pavelid, journalist, Croatia
10. Borka Rudid, journalist, BH
11. Boro Kontid, director of Media Center, BH
12. Center for Advanced Legal Studies, Belgrade, Serbia
13. Center for Democracy and Transitional Justice, Banja Luka, BH
14. Center for Civic Education, Podgorica, Montenegro
15. Center for Peace and Women’s education, Kotor, Montenegro
16. Center for Peace Studies, Zagreb, Croatia
17. Center for Peace, Nonviolence and Human Rights, Osijek, Croatia
18. Center for Protection of Human Rights and Tolerance Polimlje, Prijepolje
19. CHRIS – Network of the Committees for Human rights, Niš, Serbia
20. Citizens Association of Bukovice and Pljevlja, Pljevlja, Montenegro
21. Civic Committee for Human Rights, Zagreb, Croatia
22. Civic Initiative, Pančevo, Serbia
23. ÇOHU! Organization, Prishtina, Kosovo
24. Council for Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms, Prishtina, Kosovo
25. Cultural Center Damad, Novi Pazar, Serbia
26. Damir Imamovid, musician, BH
27. Dennis Gratz, lawyer, president of Our party, BH
28. Dino Mustafid, theatre director, BH
29. Documenta – Centar for dealing with the past, Zagreb, Croatia
30. Đorđe Krajišnik, journalist, BiH
31. Dragan Pjevač, lawyer, Serbia
32. Dragoljub Vukovid, journalist, Montenegro
33. Dražen Lalid, professor, Faculty of Political Science, University in Zagreb, Croatia
34. Dubravka Stojanovid, professor, Faculty of Philosophy, University in Belgrade, Serbia
35. Dubravko Lovrenovid, professor, Faculty of Philosophy, University in Sarajevo, BH
36. Dušan Topid, economist, Banja Luka, BH
37. Duška Jurišid, journalist, BH
38. Dževad Mahmutovid, Faculty of Law, University in Tuzla, BH
39. Dževad Sabljakovid, journalist and writer, France
40. Edin Šarčevid, professor, University of Leipzig and Center for Public Law, BH
41. Eldar Dizdarevid, journalist, BH
42. Eldin Hadzovid, journalist, BH
43. Emil Prutina, journalist, BH
44. Enes Osmančevid, professor, Faculty of Philosophy, University in Tuzla, BH
45. Esad Bedirovid, Center for Civil Society development, BH
46. Faruk Borid, director of media agency FENA, BH
47. Faruk Kajtaz, editor of web portal STARMO, BH
48. Florence Hartmann, journalist and writer, former ICTY and ICTR spokesperson, France
49. Frosina Pandurska – Dramikjanin, Macedonian Ecological society, Macedonia
50. Goran Miletid, Programme Director for Western Balkans, Civil Rights Defenders, Serbia
51. Gordana Igrid, journalist, Serbia
52. Hajrudin Somun, publicist, BH
53. Hariz Halilovid, senior lecturer, Monash University, Australia
54. HOMO Pula, Croatia
55. Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia
56. Institute Alternativ, Podgorica, Montenegro
57. Izmirlija Midhat, Faculty of Law, University in Sarajevo, BH
58. Jasminka Hasanbegovid, professor, Faculty of Law, University in Belgrade, Serbia
59. Jelka Jovanovid, journalist, Serbia
60. Jeton Neziraj, playwriter, Kosovo
61. Kalabria, Prishtina, Kosovo
62. Kosovo Institute for Peace, Prishtina, Kosovo
63. Labris, Belgrade, Serbia
64. Lana Rizvanovid, journalist, BH
65. Lawyers’ Committe for Human Rights-YUCOM, Belgrade, Serbia
66. LGBT Forum Progress, Podgorica, Montenegro
67. Lush Krasniqi, activits for rights of victims, Kosovo
68. Majda Tatarevid, journalist, BH
69. Marko Divkovid, journalist, BH
70. Masha Durkalid, journalist, BH
71. Mijat Lakidevid, journalist, Serbia
72. Mikica Milojevid, journalist, BH
73. Milena Savid, Center for informative and legal aid, Zvornik, BH
74. Miljenko Dereta, Member of Serbian Parliament and co-founder of Civic Initiatives
75. Muhamed Džemidžid, Human Rights House, Sarajevo, BH
76. Mujo Selimovid, MIMS, d.o.o. Sarajevo, BH
77. Multimedia Center, Prishtina, Kosovo
78. Mustafa Mustajbegovid, political scientist, BH
79. Nadežda Gade, editor in chief Novi magazin, Serbia
80. Normela Hodžid – Zijadid, Delegation of European Commission in BH, Sarajevo
81. Open Center Bona Fidae, Pljevlja, Montenegro
82. Praxis, Belgrade, Serbia
83. Rubina Čengid, journalist, BH
84. Sandra Dančetovid, journalist, Serbia
85. Sandžak Committee for Protection of Human Rights and Freedom, Novi Pazar, Serbia
86. Saša Gavrid, Open Center Sarajevo, BH
87. Šejla Adžanela, economist, BH
88. Senadin Lavid, professor, University of Sarajevo, director of BZK “Preporod”, BH
89. Serbian Democratic Forum, Zagreb, Croatia
90. Shkelzen Gashi, publicist, Kosovo
91. Sinan Alid, Foundation ‘Truth, Justice, Reconciliation’, Tuzla, BH
92. Srđan Dizdarevid, Helsinki Committee for human rights, BH
93. Srđan Dvornik, publicist and human rights activists, Croatia
94. Syri i Vizionit, Peja, Kosovo
95. Tamara Nikčevid, journalist, Serbia
96. Tarik Haverid, professor, Faculty of Law, University in Zenica, BH
97. Teki Bokshi, lawyer, Kosovo
98. Una Alikadid, Free Media Help Line, BH
99. Una Bejtovid, PR consultant, BH
100. Urban In, Novi Pazar, Serbia
101. Veseljko Koprivica, journalist, Montenegro
102. Victimology Society of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia
103. Vildana Selimbegovid, editor in chief Oslobođenje, Sarajevo, BH
104. Violeta Beširevid, professor, Faculty of Law, Union University in Belgrade, Serbia
105. Vjeran Pavlakovid, professor, Faculty of Philosophy, University in Rijeka, Croatia
106. Vladimir Petrovid, Netherlands Institute for War and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
107. Vuk Bačanovid, Magazin DANI, BiH
108. Women in Black, Belgrade, Serbia
109. Women’s Safe House, Podgorica, Montenegro
110. Zdravko Grebo, professor, Faculty of Law, University in Sarajevo, BH
111. Željka Mihaljevid, journalist, BH
112. Zlatiborka Popov Momcinovid, professor, Faculty of Philosophy, University in Eastern