Tolbert comes to post with 'wealth of experience'
By Sebastien Malo
Special to The Daily Star
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.
Tolbert comes to post with 'wealth of experience'
Background - خلفية
On 13 December 2005 the Government of the Lebanese Republic requested the UN to establish a tribunal of an international character to try all those who are alleged responsible for the attack of 14 february 2005 that killed the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. The United Nations and the Lebanese Republic consequently negotiated an agreement on the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
Chronology - Chronologie
Détenus - Detainees - المعتقلون
International Criminal Justice
Videos - فيديو
- Now Lebanon : Crowds Gather to Show Support for International Tribunal, August 4, 2010
- IRIS Institute:La creation du TSL est-elle justifiee? - June 18, 2009
- Al Manar : Interview with Ali Hajj right after his release - April 30, 2009
- Al Manar: Summary of Jamil Al Sayyed's press conference, April 30, 2009
- AFP, Freed Lebanese prisoner speaks out - April 30, 2009
- OTV : exclusive interview with Jamil Sayyed - April 30, 2009
- Al Jazeeera English : Crowds celebrate Hariri suspects'release - April 29, 2009
- OTV : report about Ali el Hajj - March 18, 2009
Liens - Links - مواقع ذات صلة
Frederic Megret, McGill University, 2008. A special tribunal for Lebanon: the UN Security Council and the emancipation of International Criminal Justice
International Center for Transitional Justice Handbook on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, April 10, 2008
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 19 Sept 2007
Conférence de presse de Nicolas Michel, 27 Mars 2008
Département d'Etat américain
* 2009 Human Rights report
* 2008 Human Rights report
* 2007 Human Rights report
* 2006 Human Rights report
* 2005 Human Rights report
ICG - International Crisis Group
The Hariri Tribunal: Separate the Political and the Judicial, 19 July, 2007. [Fr]
HCSS - Hague Centre for strategic studies
Hariri, Homicide and the Hague
Human Rights Watch
* Hariri Tribunal can restore faith in law, 11 may 2006
* Letter to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, april 27, 2006
* STL insufficient without wider action to combat impunity
* Liban : le Tribunal de tous les dangers, mai 2007
* Jeu de mecano
Courrier de l'ACAT - Wadih Al Asmar
Le Tribunal spécial pour le Liban : entre espoir et inquiétude
La justice penale internationale pour le Liban : bienfait ou malediction?
Nadim Shedadi and Elizabeth Wilmshurt, Chatham House
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon : the UN on Trial?, July 2007
Issam Michael Saliba, Law Library of Congress
International Tribunals, National Crimes and the Hariri Assassination : a novel development in International Criminal Law, June 2007
Mona Yacoubian, Council on Foreign Relations
Linkages between Special UN Tribunal, Lebanon, and Syria, June 1, 2007