For Immediate Release
EU: Stand Firm on Mladic
Serbia’s Full Cooperation With Yugoslav Tribunal Essential for EU Membership
WASHINGTON - The European Union should send a strong
message to Serbia that full cooperation with the Yugoslav tribunal,
including the arrest and surrender of Bosnian war fugitive Ratko
Mladic, remains necessary for EU membership, Human Rights Watch said in
a letter issued today. On December 8 and 9, 2008, foreign ministers of
EU member states will meet in Brussels as part of the General Affairs
and External Relations Council (GAERC) and are expected to adopt
conclusions relating to the EU's enlargement strategy.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)
indicted Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military commander during the war in
Bosnia, on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role
in the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys after the fall of
Srebrenica in 1995, the worst atrocity on European soil since the
Second World War.
"Belgrade's undeniable progress in arresting fugitives and
surrendering them to The Hague should not be confused with full
cooperation," said Lotte Leicht, EU advocacy director at Human Rights
Watch. "It just proves that maintaining the EU's leverage over Serbia
is the only way to ensure that the remaining fugitives, including
Mladic, will face justice in The Hague."
Earlier this year, Serbian authorities arrested and surrendered to
the tribunal the indicted former Bosnian Serb police commander, Stojan
Zupljanin, and the top former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic,
the alleged architect of the Srebrenica massacre. While these are
important developments, Human Rights Watch said that these arrests do
not constitute full cooperation.
In April 2008, the EU signed the Stabilization Association Agreement
(SAA) with Serbia, the first step toward EU membership. The next step
is for the agreement to undergo the ratification process in all 27 EU
states. The EU has repeatedly indicated that full cooperation with the
tribunal, including the surrender of Mladic to The Hague, is necessary
for Serbia's progress toward accession. Serbia's previous failure to
cooperate with the tribunal, including the failure to arrest Mladic,
led to the suspension of SAA negotiations in May 2006.
The determination regarding the extent of Serbia's cooperation with
the ICTY rests with the tribunal's prosecutor. The current prosecutor,
Serge Brammertz, will make public his assessment of Serbia's
cooperation next week in his briefing before the United Nations
Mladic has been at liberty since his indictment in 1995. On February
26, 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled that Serbia breached
its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment
of Genocide by failing to prevent or punish the genocide at Srebrenica.
In particular, the court found that Serbia's failure to transfer Mladic
to the tribunal amounts to an ongoing violation of its obligations
under the Genocide Convention. It was the first time that the court had
found a country in violation of the Genocide Convention.
Goran Hadzic, a Croatian Serb charged with war crimes and crimes
against humanity by the tribunal for his role in the persecution of
Croat and other non-Serb civilians in parts of Serb-controlled Croatia,
also remains at large and is believed to be within the reach of Serbian