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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow UN & Tribunal arrow Head of UN Names Prosecutor as Registrar for Tribunal
Head of UN Names Prosecutor as Registrar for Tribunal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dailystar   
Friday, 10 July 2009

Then-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri speaks during an interview with AFP in Beirut in 2004. The head of the United Nations named a seasoned US prosecutor as registrar for the special court to try the suspected killers of Hariri, the tribunal said Friday. (AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar)
Then-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri speaks during an interview with AFP in Beirut in 2004. The head of the United Nations named a seasoned US prosecutor as registrar for the special court to try the suspected killers of Hariri, the tribunal said Friday. (AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar)

The head of the United Nations named a seasoned US prosecutor as registrar for the special court to try the suspected killers of Hariri, the tribunal said Friday. (AFP/File/Ramzi Haidar) 

UN chief appoints new Registrar for Tribunal
Tolbert comes to post with 'wealth of experience'
By Sebastien Malo
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, July 11, 2009

BEIRUT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon appointed David Tolbert, an American citizen, as Registrar of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) on Friday. Suzan Khan, a spokesperson for the STL, told The Daily Star that "the appointment is a positive step toward the progression of the work of the Tribunal."

Tolbert's appointment follows the unexpected resignation of his predecessor, Robin Vincent, only six weeks after the opening of the Tribunal last March.

Tolbert has held high offices at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former-Yugoslavia (ICTY), a tribunal whose work is substantially similar to that of the STL, from 1998 to 2008.

Tolbert "will bring with him a wealth of experience in the work of international criminal tribunals," according to the UN's Department of Public Information.

The ICTY has prosecuted numerous war crimes suspects allegedly involved in the former-Yugoslavia's bloody civil war since its establishment in 1993. Tolbert held the offices of Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Deputy Registrar, and chief de cabinet for that tribunal. He most recently served as UN assistant secretary general and special adviser to the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials.

Legal expert Marieka Wierda, a senior associate at the New York-based International Center for Transitional Justice, said that "Mr. Tolbert is the right man for the job ... [given that] he has extensive experience with both issues of the cooperation of states [with such tribunals] and with that of witness protection."

Wierda highlighted that Tolbert's appointment was particularly positive in the context of the STL's recent efforts to put in place a witness protection program for around 90 witnesses who are scheduled to testify at the tribunal.

Weak witness protection programs have proven detrimental to the prosecution of suspects in the past. The prosecutor of ICTY, for instance, was forced to abandon rape charges because a witness refused to testify after her family was threatened in the case of Dusko Tadic.

Tolbert's experience in "fragile countries" where witnesses were attacked, such as in Kosovo, "comes in handy," Wierda said.

The STL was tasked in 2005 by the UN Security Council with trying and convicting those individuals suspected in the killing of businessman magnate and Lebanese five-time Premier Rafik Hariri that same year, along with 22 others.

But the STL has come under heavy criticism in Lebanon for having been slow at progressing toward this goal. Four years after the tribunal was first established and after Hariri's assassination, it has not yet issued a single indictment.

Some local analysts have recently questioned whether the STL's investigation was really still on track, citing a drop in domestic support for a process that has yet to see an indictment, despite the passage of more than four years since the Hariri assassination.

"We do not respond to the speculation of those who want to speculate [about the STL's work]," Khan commented.

The STL suffered another blow with the announcement on Wednesday that its only prosecutor, Daniel Bellemare, would leave the STL's headquarters in the Hague for a few weeks to receive medical treatment in Canada.

Wierda called on Lebanese to be "patient."

"The next six to twelve months are crucial," she said, "and very soon it will be apparent what direction the STL will take."

The Registrar is the only staff member of the STL who is chosen by the UN, based on the regulations governing the Tribunal's work.

"The Registrar ... is primarily the [STL's] Senior Administrator," reads the tribunal's website, "but performs the functions of coordinator, mediator, facilitator and communicator across the Special Tribunal."

Tolbert will commence his duties on August 26. Dailystar

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=104079



 
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