NEW YORK – The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday elected public prosecutor Chikako Taya as a judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Taya, 55, is the first woman from Japan to be appointed to any of the international courts, and Japan’s first candidate for the Yugoslavia war-crimes tribunal, based in The Hague.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will begin officially appointing the 27 judges elected Tuesday by the end of summer.
Because Taya received the second-highest number of votes, with 145 out of 172 cast, she is expected to be in the first group confirmed, which will occur in the Netherlands as early as October.
The tribunal was mandated by the Security Council in 1993 to try people suspected of war crimes committed since 1991 in the former Yugoslavia.
The court’s most prominent indictee is former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is being held in a national corruption investigation but has not been turned over to the tribunal to face charges of atrocities committed by the Yugoslav military.
The Security Council decided in November to elect judges who would serve as needed to assist the 14 permanent judges with the court’s growing caseload.
A diplomatic source said that at the current rate of progress, trying all indicted people could take until 2018, but with the additional judges, work could be completed by 2007.
Taya, who holds two degrees, has been a prosecutor with the Tokyo High Public Prosecutor’s Office since last year in charge of crimes involving foreign nationals in Japan.
In the past decade, she has served on a number of U.N. panels related to human rights and the environment, including the Committee for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
She was a member of Japan’s delegation to the World Conference on Human Rights in 1992 and has been head of Japan’s delegation to the U.N. Congresses on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders since 1985. She has taught at the Graduate School of International Cooperation at Kobe University.
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