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Yugoslavia: U.N. Must Press Kostunica on Tribunal

Donors' Conference Should Depend on Cooperation, Arrest of Indictees

As Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica arrived in the U.S., Human Rights Watch urged U.N. and U.S. officials to press him to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Kostunica is slated to meet U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Tuesday. 
 
"Last fall, Yugoslavia was admitted to the U.N. with the expectation that it would abide by U.N. commitments -- including the requirement that member states cooperate with the tribunal," said Richard Dicker, head of Human Rights Watch's International Justice program. "Unfortunately, cooperation has been halting and President Kostunica himself has done little but denigrate the tribunal. Indeed, he has said point blank that Milosevic should never be sent to The Hague. U.N. officials should make clear that this approach is completely unacceptable."  
 
Human Rights Watch called for the Secretary General and other officials to raise Hague Tribunal cooperation as a central focus of the meeting.  
 
Following meetings at the U.N. Tuesday, Kostunica will travel to Washington, D.C., coincidentally crossing paths with Tribunal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is also in Washington this week. Kostunica will have meetings with senior U.S. government officials and representatives of the international financial institutions, where discussions will likely focus on a donors' conference for Yugoslavia, which the World Bank and the E.U. have proposed for June 1, but the U.S. has suggested be postponed until Yugoslavia demonstrates further commitment to cooperate with the tribunal.  
 
In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of State last week, Human Rights Watch urged that the setting of a date for a donors' conference on Yugoslavia should be tied to specific benchmarks. "No donors' conference should be scheduled until Yugoslav citizens who have been indicted by the tribunal are sent to The Hague," said Dicker. "Kostunica must also make a public commitment that Milosevic himself will be transferred to the custody of the tribunal."  

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