Wednesday, February 25, 2009

International Tribunal Operational Preview

An exterior view of the building that will house the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in Leidschendam, Netherlands, Tuesday Feb. 24, 2009 ... The Secretary General of United Nations has recently announced that the Special Tribunal will commence functioning on March 1, 2009. (AP Photo/ Bas Czerwinski)

The Dailystar writes:
Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) Registrar Robin Vincent vowed on Tuesday that the tribunal, which will try suspects in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, would be "transparent in dealing with the media without affecting the confidentiality of some information." Speaking during a news conference at the tribunal's headquarters in The Hague, Vincent said the tribunal would run an information office in Lebanon.

"We have a tribunal for Lebanon that has been placed in The Hague. This is why we need to run an information office in Beirut so that the Lebanese public is not kept in the dark," he said. Vincent said that the funding for the tribunal first year of operation was complete. "The first year's budget is around $51.4 million, 49 percent of which will be paid by the Lebanese government. The remaining amount will be collected from other contributors," he said.

"I recently contacted Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who confirmed that the Lebanese contribution will be paid in full," he added.

The registrar stressed that the tribunal's financial status was "healthy," adding that there were no worries over funding in 2010 and 2011.

Vincent said the court will take years to finish its work.

"I think it would be unlikely you would see this tribunal finish before between three and five years."

"That is my view, but it depends very much on what comes through that door to face the judges," he added.

Vincent also stressed that Lebanon had 60 days to transfer all arrested suspects from Beirut to The Hague.

Among such suspects are former Army Intelligence chief Raymond Azar, General Security head Jamil al-Sayyed, Internal Security Forces director Ali al-Hajj and Presidential Guard head Mustafa Hamdan.

The tribunal, based in a former Dutch intelligence agency [building] in a village just outside The Hague, formally opens for business on Sunday when Canadian Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare and his team in Beirut join the rest of the personnel.

An opening ceremony will be held on Sunday in which Bellemare will make a statement on the progress of the investigation.

The tribunal's premises, a seven story building, served as a former base for the Dutch Intelligence.

Vincent said that the second and third floors will be dedicated for the prosecutor and his team while the defense will occupy the first floor.
Meanwhile, NOWLebanon reports:
Special Tribunal Registrar Robin Vincent said that the prosecution of heads of state was possible, but that the general prosecutor would have the final say on the matter.

...

“Funding is important, but international support for the Special Tribunal is also important,” he said. “There will be additional needs in coming years. The UN Secretary General is attempting to secure support from other countries, and we secured a majority of the funds necessary for the first year. I received a warm welcome and aid from many member states of the UN.”

“If the Special Tribunal runs into financial problems,” he said, “we will turn to the Security Council.”

...

“The names of the judges were not announced for security reasons, and we will announce their names at the right time,” Vincent concluded.
and Naharnet writes:
An administrative committee has been formed to "ward off" any pressure on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), the tribunal's Registrar Robin Vincent said Tuesday in The Hague, expecting the trial to last for "at least five years."

...Vincent described the New-York based committee as "significant and represents member states. Its function is to ward off pressure on the tribunal."

The committee is headed by Britain with Canada acting as vice president. Other members include Holland, the United States, Italy, Germany, France and Japan. While it is possible to include more members, Vincent said "the cost of one seat on the committee is estimated at $1 million."

Vincent also stressed the need for cooperation with the media to keep the Lebanese public informed of the STL's progress.

The need for a strong communications strategy is more urgent because the tribunal is not based in Lebanon, he said. "We want a positive relationship with the media", he said recalling his experience with the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone. "It was very easy to maintain communication from the start" because the tribunal was located in Sierra Leone.

In the case of the STL, "we have a tribunal for Lebanon but Beirut is very far from us," he added, repeating the need for the Lebanese public not to be kept in the dark. "They have to understand the tribunal's work. This is why it is important to have a base for the tribunal in Beirut."

He said the media can have an advisory role. "We look forward to receiving feedback from you," Vincent told journalists. "We have our own experience in international tribunals," he added, saying that the STL was different. "Each tribunal is unique in the challenges it presents."

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