Will war criminals be despatched to The Hague more speedily?

25 May 2007

Will war criminals be despatched to The Hague more speedily?

The new Serbian government will do all in its power to bring Serb war crime suspects Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic before the International Court in The Hague, according to an undertaking made by Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at a meeting in Belgrade. Serbia will hold the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe for the coming six months.

Tiny KoxSP Senator Tiny Kox, speaking on behalf of the United European Left, the political group which he chairs, insisted that fine words were no longer sufficient, certainly not for a country about to assume the leadership of the Council of Europe, a body dedicated to human rights and democracy. “You know who is being sought and you must know how to find them. If, in the coming six months of your presidency you make good on your promise, then Serbia will prove to its own people and to the whole of Europe that you really are coming to terms with the past.” Senator Kox's demand won support from other political groups, who described compliance with it as “essential”.

Kox received from the new President of Europe's oldest and broadest human rights organisation the promise that Serbia would attempt to speed up the accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights. Although membership is a condition of accession to the Union, the EU itself is not a member in its own right. Affiliation would represent recognition of the Council of Europe's leading role in the area of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and the matter will shortly form the substance of a debate in PACE.

Foreign Minister Jeremic, answering questions from Kox, committed himself to making every effort to improve the deplorable financial in which the Council of Europe finds itself. While the European Union is swimming in money, the Council of Europe's various bodies, which include the European Court of Human Rights, were broke. It seems increasingly that the EU was willing to invest less and less in the 47-member Council of Europe, which attitude goes along with the sort of EU empire-building about which the SP has long warned.

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