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NATO Discussing Police Force for Bosnia

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BRUSSELS, Dec. 24, 1996 – Arresting war criminals is not a job for the NATO stabilization force, but for civilian police, U.S. Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili said.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking in Bosnia before arriving here for NATO meetings, said officials should form an international police force to go after indicted war criminals who have not been turned in as required by the Dayton peace agreement.

Many NATO officials here agree, said a senior U,S. defense official. U.S. and NATO officials are now talking about formally proposing an international police force to deal with indicted war criminals. While no formal action relative to war criminals was taken during the NATO meetings, U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry said there was clear agreement that bringing indicted war criminals to justice is an important mission.

"The ministers also agreed this is not an IFOR mission, and it will not be an SFOR mission," Perry said. "They agreed locating and arresting the criminals is a mission for a police force."

"What we have here is movement toward a consensus," the official said. "We don't have clearly defined proposals yet. But we're on the path toward agreement that we need such proposals."

SFOR's rules regarding war criminals remain the same as for the IFOR mission, said U.S. Army Gen. George S. Joulwan, supreme allied commander, Europe.

"All of us deplore the fact that the war criminals have not been brought to justice," Joulwan said. "But it's very clear what my instructions are. If we come in contact with them, we will detain them and turn them over to the proper authorities. That is part of the mission we have, and we will continue to follow that guidance."

Under the Dayton agreement, the former warring parties agreed to capture and turn over war criminals for trial. "They have not done so," the official said.

"Only seven out of about 80 indicted war criminals have been turned over to The Hague for trial in the last year," he said. "All of the allies agree there has not bean enough progress in this area. The allies also agree it is not the job of soldiers to become policeman."

There's a consensus among the NATO allies that more needs to be done, the spokesman said. Consensus says SFOR is not the group to do it. The consensus by default is that some sort of police force must do it.

"The issue right now that people are discussing in how do you structure that police force," he said. "This is complicated by the fact that this will not be a NATO project. It's to be under the responsibility of some other organization."

During a meeting between U.S. Defense Secretary William J. Perry and French Defense Minister Charles Millon Dec. 18, both ministers agreed a special police force is needed. In later meetings, defense officials from Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark also agreed.

U.S. officials propose putting together an enhanced international police force to work in coordination with SFOR at the leadership level, but under the direction of the war crimes tribunal at The Hague. Some NATO officials say the police force should not be under the United Nations, but should be under either the European Union or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

"There's the feeling among some ministers that this would be more effective if it operated under European leadership since it is a European problem," the official said.

Several countries said they are currently contributing to the police force in Bosnia, the official said. French officials, for example, said they already have 100 gendarmes in Bosnia.

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