ICJ strongly condemns Serbian war crimes in Kosovo

Today, the ICJ condemns in the strongest terms the blatant violations of international law committed by the Serbian leadership in relation to the massacre in Racak, Kosovo, on 15 January 1999.

Such atrocities constitute war crimes, which the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) has competence to investigate and prosecute.

In this context, the ICJ recalls that there is a duty for States to cooperate with the ICTFY as this Tribunal is established under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. The ICJ hence totally condemns the refusal by the Serbian authorities to allow Ms. Louise Arbour, Prosecutor of the International Tribunal, and her team of forensic experts, to enter Kosovo and investigate the massacre at Racak.

Once again, the ICJ calls upon the Serbian leadership, armed forces and police to respect international human rights and humanitarian law – and first and foremost the right to life -, including common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions which prohibit attacks against civilians and murder in all types of conflicts, whether internal or international. The ICJ also calls upon the Serbian armed forces and police to put an immediate end to their ongoing campaign of wanton terror, destruction and murder.

The ICJ calls on both sides to the conflict to immediately put an end to hostilities. The ICJ calls for urgently needed humanitarian assistance to be brought to those in need, without hindrance by the belligerents, through such organisations as the UNHCR and the ICRC.

The ICJ deplores the decision of the Serbian leadership to call for the withdrawal of the head of the OSCE team of verificators in Kosovo.

The ICJ calls on the international community to maintain a high degree of vigilance in relation to the human rights situation in Kosovo and on States, individually and collectively, to exert as much diplomatic and economic pressure as may be necessary to force Serbian compliance with international law.

The ICJ finally recalls that the States, High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, have the obligation to ensure the respect of international humanitarian norms by another High Contracting Party if it violates the Geneva Conventions.

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