Monday, October 10, 2011

Tribunal appoints new President

Leidschendam, 10 October 2011 - Judge Sir David Baragwanath has been unanimously elected President of the Tribunal and Presiding Judge of the Appeals Chamber, after being proposed by Vice-President Riachy and Judge Cassese.
The appointment of the new President by the Appeals Chamber follows the resignation yesterday, on health grounds, of Judge Antonio Cassese as President. Judge Cassese will continue to serve as a Judge of the Tribunal's Appeals Chamber.

"It is a privilege to succeed the highly respected jurist Antonio Cassese", said Judge Baragwanath. "We are indeed fortunate that that his wisdom and experience will continue to inform our work."

Judge Baragwanath brings nearly fifty years of legal experience to the Presidency. He has practised both as defence and as prosecution counsel. He has extensive experience in New Zealand as a High Court and Court of Appeal judge. He was also President of the New Zealand Law Commission.

"Public confidence in the Tribunal requires that we adhere strictly to the rule of law", said Judge Baragwanath. "The people of Lebanon are entitled to receive from our Tribunal the highest standards of justice delivered without fear or favour, affection or ill-will."

"Essential among its elements is the presumption of innocence, expressed in the twin rules that the onus of proof lies on the prosecution; and that proof of every element charged must be beyond reasonable doubt. I want to assure all Lebanese people that we see ourselves as your judges."

Judge Cassese said that the decision to step down as President was difficult for him personally but it was the correct choice for the Tribunal.

"For two and a half years I have endeavoured to steer the STL through difficult waters efficiently and fairly", said Judge Cassese.

"Since it is now more difficult for me to engage in the administrative work and external responsibilities required of the President, I do not feel able to provide the leadership that the Tribunal requires and deserves. However, I will stay on as a Judge of the Appeals Chamber and work hard on judicial matters."

The President of the Tribunal has a wide range of tasks, including oversight of the effective functioning of the Tribunal and the good administration of justice, as well as representing the STL in relations with States, the United Nations and other entities.

"I am confident that the new President, an outstanding Judge of high repute, will wisely guide the STL now that judicial proceedings have commenced and the Tribunal's Chambers are becoming fully operational", said Judge Cassese. "Judge Baragwanath will undoubtedly ensure the most efficient, prompt and fair conduct of the Tribunal's work."