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SA judge receives international justice award

afrol News, 20 October - Former chief prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and South African anti apartheid judge, Richard J. Goldstone, has been awarded over half a million US dollars for his outstanding work on international justice issues.

Announcement was made today by president of the MacArthur Foundation, Jonathan Fanton.

Justice Goldstone's award for International Justice entails US$100,000 for his own work and an additional $500,000 in support for his work with non-profit making organisations.

As chief prosecutor of Tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia, Justice Goldstone helped marshal these courts, first of their kind since Nazi war criminals were tried at Nuremberg following World War II.

In 1995, Judge Goldstone filed charges of genocide and crimes against humanity against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic for their roles in "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnian Muslims, among other allegations.

Prior to his appointment as chief prosecutor in 1994, Judge Goldstone was chair of Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation (commonly called "the Goldstone Commission") in aftermath of apartheid in his native South Africa.

His service on Commission proved invaluable to democratic transition in that country, where he also served as an inaugural member of Constitutional Court.

"Justice Goldstone has played an instrumental role in building emerging international system of justice," said Mr Fanton at MacArthur-supported conference on international justice at American University.

He added that, "he gave tribunals moral authority and legal credibility. It is, in large part, a testament to quality of his work that international community accepted Rome Statute and established International Criminal Court with confidence. His unquestioned competence and integrity won faith of world."

In selecting Mr Goldstone, Foundation's Board of Directors reportedly cited his role in development of modern era of international justice.

As chief prosecutor, Judge Goldstone is said to have set a high moral and legal standard for tribunals.

He reportedly insisted on independence of counsel and judges, transparency in establishment of facts in each case, due process for accused, and importance of first-hand testimony from witnesses and surviving victims.

His clarity of vision and meticulous approach to justice brought both a degree of resolution to victims and a new model for the prosecution of crimes against humanity, report by Foundation states.

Receiving the award, Justice Goldstone said, "It is an honor to receive MacArthur Award for International Justice, as Foundation has been a leader in supporting efforts to advance human rights and international justice. Since the early 1990s, we have witnessed emergence of a system of international justice that is growing stronger with each new case tried in a regional court or UN tribunal and with each investigation opened by the International Criminal Court."

He added that it had given him tremendous pride and satisfaction to play a role in ensuring that perpetrators of mass atrocities have more reason today than ever to fear being brought to justice.

MacArthur Award for International Justice will be conferred upon Goldstone in The Hague on 21 May 2009.

Earlier that day, there will be a panel discussion on "The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunals in National and International Systems."

Former United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, was first recipient of Award in 2008, in recognition of his contribution to building International Criminal Court and encouraging development of concept of responsibility to protect.

Award honors individuals and organizations, that have among others been transformative forces in fields of human rights and international justice, improved existing or helped to create new institutions, norms, and systems of international justice and demonstrated long-term commitment and made a significant personal contribution to advancing international justice.

MacArthur Foundation has long supported efforts to fashion an integrated system of international justice that includes International Criminal Court, regional human rights courts and commissions, and special tribunals impaneled by UN.

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