International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Neo Colonialism and Lengths of Imprisonment

The article below concerns Belgium’s use of universal jurisdiction and it’s release of four Rwandans who allegedly had a part in the genocide in 1994. They had all been released due to rulings that there was not enough evidence to hold them in custody, and the article questions whether the international courts should hold prisoners for so long during on going investigations.

The first thing that I want to address that this article does not mention, however, is Belgium’s use of universal jurisdiction on this particular case. First, wouldn’t this come into conflict with the ICTR? And two, is there any controversy  since Belgium is the country that colonized Rwanda and had a major part in turning Hutus and Tutsis against one another through allocation of political power? Perhaps I am just listening to my gut here, but is this right when one looks at the broader picture?

Now to the subject matter of the article itself. The questions that it brings up for me is is it just to keep prisoners for so long without a trial? Of course, because of the scale and magnitude of the crimes it takes much longer to gather evidence and witnesses, but is there some way that prisoners can be monitored or given more freedom prior to trial? As the article describes, prisoners in Belgium had to pay bail and are not allowed to leave the country. Could this become an option in International Courts, as it would make them appear more fair and geared toward a balanced trial? Or are having such high profile prisoners too great a danger on this level?


2 responses to “Neo Colonialism and Lengths of Imprisonment

  1. carolinegrady40 February 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    While it might not be particularly just to keep prisoners jailed for so long before the commencement of a trial, what other alternatives are there? These men are oftentimes well connected in various political organizations and, if released, could easily slip away from the hands of international justice. This would only add more time onto an already onerous process. It is almost impossible to speed up the current judiciary process underneath current constraints – no police force, etc – and so it is important that the international community recognize that there must be some sacrifices made in the interest of justice.

  2. lemster900 February 24, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    This article brings up an interesting point for international justice. The fact that the Belgian judicial system has figured out a way to detain war criminals without infringing on their rights should set a precedent to International courts. The way that Belgium released these men, while still maintaining that they stay in the country, shows how an international court can buy more time to gain the appropriate amount of evidence to try perpetrators in court, without providing the perpetrators the chance to escape. As long as tabs are kept on these Rwandan war criminals to ensure that they do not leave the country, they will not avoid justice and once their cases are ready for trial, they will be tried in a court of law.

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