International Legal Assistance
Submissions of Requests for Assistance to the ICTY
The principles of international legal assistance authorise judicial and State authorities from the former Yugoslavia or other States to request assistance from the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) or from the Registry. These requests will generally pertain to cases directly related to the conduct of ICTY proceedings or to investigations or judicial proceedings pending in a State.
Note: Requests for Assistance typically pertain to the below-listed categories and may only be submitted on behalf of judicial or State authorities. However, victims or witnesses for whom protective measures have been ordered in proceedings before the Tribunal may seek to vary, augment or rescind their protective measures by applying to the ICTY. Other requests from individuals will not be considered as a Request for Assistance.
General requests for information and public court documents which do not require certification may be addressed to the Public Information Office in The Hague or the Registry Liaison Offices. Copies of ICTY public court documents can be found on the ICTY Court Records database and selected documents are also posted at The Cases section of the ICTY website.
Requests for Assistance addressed to the Office of the Prosecutor
Judicial and State authorities investigating and prosecuting war crimes may contact the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the ICTY for any request for assistance regarding information collected by this office.
Requests for Assistance addressed to the Registry
Requests may be addressed directly to the Registry in The Hague or through one of the Registry Liaison Offices.
In general, Requests for Assistance typically include requests for:
a) Certified copies of public ICTY court documents
(These documents typically include transcripts, audio-video recordings, exhibits, motions, orders, judgements, etc.)
The request shall be submitted to the Registry and is required to include the following information:
- the name of the applicant and the competent authority conducting the investigation or judicial proceeding;
- the jurisdiction of the ICTY to implement the request;
- the specific details in relation to the request (such details should include case name/number, date of testimony of the witness, witness name/pseudonym, exhibit number, tendering party, date of admission, description of exhibit);
- the precise purpose for which the assistance is sought;
- the specification of any time-limit to be complied with;
- any other information necessary to the processing of the request; and
- an indication to the effect that the letter is meant as a request.
Unless otherwise ordered by a Chamber, a request that fails to conform to the requirements identified above may be returned to the requesting party with a request for any additional information the ICTY deems necessary or with a recommendation that the request be submitted to an Enforcement State or another party.
Unless otherwise ordered by a Chamber, the ICTY Registry shall determine the form of certification or authentication required from the party seeking the request for assistance.
Unless otherwise agreed or determined by a Chamber, the ordinary administrative costs of a request for assistance to be implemented by the ICTY shall be borne by the ICTY and expenses of a substantial or extraordinary nature shall be borne by the requesting party
Unless otherwise agreed with the Registry or determined by a Chamber, the Registry of the ICTY shall determine the time frame for responding to the request. A requesting party may petition for the urgent execution of the request, in which case the basis for the urgency should be specified.
b) Variation of Protective Measures
(Rule 75 (H) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence)
Pursuant to Rule 75 (H), a Judge or Bench in another jurisdiction, parties in another jurisdiction authorised by an appropriate judicial authority or a victim or witness for whom protective measures have been ordered by the Tribunal may seek to rescind, vary, or augment protective measures ordered in proceedings before the Tribunal by applying to the President of the Tribunal.
Applications may include request for access to confidential court documents, for example exhibits or filings, or requests for witness testimony or protected witness information.
Applications submitted pursuant to Rule 75 (H) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence shall be submitted in accordance with the Practice Direction IT-254 on Procedure for the Variation of Protective Measures Pursuant to Rule 75 (H) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Tribunal for Access to Confidential Tribunal Material.
c) Taking of statements or testimony from a detainee in the Netherlands in the custody of the ICTY
• Criminal cases in relation to war crimes in the former Yugoslavia
(Rule 75 bis and ter of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence)
Pursuant to Rule 75 bis, a Judge or Bench in another jurisdiction or parties in another jurisdiction authorised by an appropriate judicial authority (“Requesting Authority”) may request the assistance of the Tribunal in obtaining the testimony of a person under the authority of the Tribunal in ongoing proceedings in the jurisdiction of the Requesting Authority involving violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. Pursuant to this rule, the ICTY can assist the Requesting Authority in making the arrangements for the testimony of a detainee from ICTY premises by video-conference link. If legal provisions in the jurisdiction of the Requesting Authority do not allow for the testimony to be received by way of video-conference link, the ICTY may consider to render the assistance by way of granting the Requesting Authority access to the person to be heard on the premises of the Tribunal or the transfer of the person under Rule 75 ter.
Applications pursuant to Rule 75 bis shall be submitted to the President of the Tribunal and are required to include the following information:
- the fact that the application is made pursuant to Rule 75 bis on the cover page of the application;
- the name of the applicant and the competent authority conducting the investigation or court proceeding;
- the name of the detainee from whom assistance is sought;
- the relevance of the testimony sought to the investigation or court proceeding of the applicant;
- the precise purpose for which the testimony is sought;
- the legal provision under national law pursuant to which the testimony is sought;
- the date or time frame within which the requested assistance is sought;
- any other information necessary to the processing of the application.
• Criminal cases generally
In all other cases where a statement or testimony is required of a detainee, the requesting party may proceed with the submission of a request for bilateral legal assistance to the Host State (the Netherlands). These requests for legal assistance can be pursuant to the applicable treaty on mutual legal assistance, such as the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters
of 20 April 1959, or, in the absence of an applicable treaty, on the basis of letters rogatory to the District Court of The Hague from the requesting court. All such requests should be sent to the Netherlands Central Authority for International legal Assistance.
Service of process upon a detainee of the ICTY, in connection with the execution of a request for legal assistance to the Host State, would be effected under the domestic law of the Host State.
Unless otherwise agreed or determined by the Chamber, the ordinary administrative costs incurred by the ICTY, in facilitating a request for assistance by the Host State, shall be borne by the ICTY but expenses of a substantial or extraordinary nature incurred by the ICTY shall be borne by the requesting party.
• Administrative and civil cases
A request for the taking of statements from a detainee in relation to an administrative or civil matter under investigation or pending before another jurisdiction may be carried out in one of several ways in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Host State.
(i) Statements may be taken, without compulsion, by a diplomatic or consular representative, accredited to the Host State, of the State to which a detainee belongs, or which takes charge of his or her interests, provided the statement pertains to a matter under investigation or pending in such State. The diplomatic or consular representative administers the oath and remains present to guarantee the integrity of the proceedings. The written interrogatories are posed by the diplomatic or consular officer or by a representative of the party seeking the statement. Requests may be submitted by the diplomatic or consular representative to the Registrar of the ICTY.
(ii) Statements may be taken, without compulsion, by a notary registered in the Netherlands (notaris) who poses written interrogatories on behalf of the party seeking the statement. The taking of such statements may be carried out without the prior consent of, or notification to, the Host State authorities. The party seeking the statement must make arrangements for the presence of a court reporter and interpreter, if required. Requests may be submitted by the notary to the Registrar of the ICTY.
(iii) Statements may be taken by a Judge of the District Court of The Hague who poses written interrogatories on behalf of the party seeking the statement. The party seeking the statement in this fashion may submit the request to the District Court of The Hague in accordance with the applicable treaty on mutual legal assistance between the State where the requesting authority is located and the Host State, or in the absence of such treaty, by means of letters rogatory from the requesting court to the District Court of The Hague. All such requests should be sent to the Netherlands Central Authority for International legal Assistance.
d) Taking of statements or testimony from an accused person on provisional release
A request for assistance in an administrative, civil or criminal matter under investigation or pending before a court in another jurisdiction involving the participation of a person on provisional release, in accordance with an order of a Chamber of the ICTY under Rule 65 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence
, should be addressed to the competent authority of the jurisdiction where the person is provisionally released to, in accordance with the laws and regulations of such jurisdiction. In determining whether to grant the request for assistance, such jurisdiction must consider the terms and conditions of the order granting provisional release and consult with the ICTY where granting the request may violate the order granting provisional release.
e) Taking of statements or testimony from a finally convicted person serving a sentence in an Enforcement State
The terms and conditions of imprisonment of persons subject to a final conviction by the ICTY and serving a sentence in relation thereto is determined by the laws of the State in which the sentence is being enforced (the “Enforcement State”). Consequently, a request for assistance involving the participation of a finally convicted person serving a sentence in an Enforcement State is to be addressed to the Enforcement State. The Enforcement State will decide whether to grant the request for assistance in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Enforcement State and the provisions of the agreement on enforcement between the United Nations and the Enforcement State or sovereign jurisdiction within the Enforcement State.
f) Service of documents upon ICTY detainees for administrative or legal proceedings not pending before the ICTY and registered mail for detainees
Service of documents upon a detainee in the Netherlands under the custody of the ICTY and in relation to administrative or legal proceedings not pending before the ICTY are legal acts to be executed under the laws of the Host State. The laws of the Host State permit the service of documents by a variety of means:
- by diplomatic or consular representative, without compulsion, in administrative, civil and criminal matters brought outside the Host State;
- by registered mail addressed to the detainee in administrative, civil and criminal cases brought outside the Host State;
- through formal request to the Netherlands Central Authority pursuant to a treaty on mutual legal assistance between the Host State and the State where the requesting party is located in; and
- by court bailiff (gerechtsdeurwaarder) in administrative and civil cases brought outside the Host State and in administrative, civil and criminal cases brought in the Host State.
Registered mail addressed to a detainee shall be posted to the following address:
United Nations Detention Unit
2597 JW The Hague
g) Requests for waiver of immunity of an official or former official of the ICTY
Where an official or former official of the ICTY is requested or summoned to provide a statement or testimony as a witness or suspect in an administrative, civil or criminal matter under investigation or pending before a court in a United Nations Member State or other jurisdiction, a waiver of immunity by the Secretary-General may be required, in accordance with the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 13 February 1946 (“General Convention”) and where relevant, the Headquarters Agreement, prior to the taking of the statement or testimony.
A party seeking such statement or testimony shall submit a request to the Registrar of the ICTY who will submit the request to the Secretary-General should a waiver of immunity be required.