International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Yugoslavia

US makes effort to deport Bosnians over war crimes

The US immigration agency established a war crimes department in 2008 in order to investigate immigrants from former conflict zones, for example the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Currently, according to BBC, the department is hoping “to deport 150 Bosnian immigrants who they believe to be involved in war crimes during the 1992-95 war.” Many of those immigrants are thought to have contributed during the Srebrenica massacre which killed_81318853_81318852 more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys. Over 100,000 Bosnians sought refuge and visas in the United States in the mid-90’s, but there was little attention paid to backgrounds and the process “relied mostly on their honesty”. The lawyer of several defendants argued that his clients were working for the Serbian government and were not directly related to the events of Srebrenica or war crimes.

Ultimately, what does deportation twenty years after the crimes were committed accomplish? It is unclear what the goals of deportation are in this case, but I fail to see a contribution to the reconstruction or reparation of  the affected society. Where will the immigrants return to, and how will that affect the new society which they join?

Visualizing the Impact of International Tribunals

Take a look at this visually impressive report on the impact of international tribunals, authored by Daniel McLaughlin and published by the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice).

tribunals map

It graphically presents data on the atrocities, tribunals and cases, which gives you a sense of both their relative scope and impact. The author explains that

“despite the tribunals’ grasp on the popular imagination, they are the subject of significant misconceptions and confusion. Much of the media coverage dedicated to their work remains superficial, at best, and largely muddle over key distinctions between various tribunals, past and present.”

The report also provides a comparative cost analysis with other major events, like the Olympics or  US Presidential election. Do the results surprise you?

intl courts costs

How does this data aid in our evaluation of international tribunals? Based on this and assigned readings in class, how should we evaluate the legitimacy and effectiveness of international tribunals?

Reopening old wounds?

The UK newspaper, The Guardian, reported this weekend on the re-trial of Ramush Haradinaj, former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and former Prime Minister of Kosovo, for war crimes. There is a significant split between the support and opposition for the retrial, after having been initially acquitted by The Hauge in 2008. Sir Geoffrey Nice, having been involved in the trial of Slobodan Milošević as a deputy prosecutor among his other work with the ICTY, commented that “Two or three teams of lawyers in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTY refused to indict Haradinaj because there was insufficient evidence.” He also suggested that the current retrial could be politically driven suggesting that the prosecution was pursued “Arguably for political reasons because Serbia was complaining about an insufficient number of Kosovars being pursued.” Carla Del Ponte, the former chief prosecutor of the ICTY, however, is hopeful that the trial will result in a conviction. 

Politically driven moves in the ICTY prosecutions have been a key criticism of the tribunal for a long time. However, Aleksandar Vulin, the head of the Serbian government office for Kosovo, brings up an interesting point, stating “An acquittal of Haradinaj by the ICTY would be a message that it is allowed to kill Serbs in Kosovo. How can we talk about the fate of missing persons, justice for those killed and return of those exiled, if a man who talk part in all this is set free?” It is once again a question of peace versus justice and striking the fine balance between the two to reach an outcome that is amicable to all the sides and does right by all the injustices committed during these atrocities.

International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia Update

It has been reported in Croatian Times and Gulf Times articles that Goran Hadzic, a former rebel leader, will be put on trial this week for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Croatia in the early 1990s. He is the final perpetrator to be charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Like we spoke in class the ICTY has been highly successful in many of its tasks, from bringing justice to the victims, to establishing the facts and directing accountability. However, one of its main criticisms was the Tribunal’s inability to put all of the perpetrators on trial. There is hope that now, with Hadzic’s capture and subsequent trial, the victims of his crimes can gain some closure and retribution and the Tribunal can bring some more justice for the crimes committed.


Do No Harm

A scholar of post-genocidal studies once told me of a conference she attended entitled “Do No Harm”. The message of the conference centered around the idea that as foreigners investigating or completing scholarly work on a post-conflict setting, the lasting effect of our work, in the end,  should improve the conditions of a post-conflict setting and the last thing they should do is deteriorate conditions in a post-conflict setting. We as, students, teachers, and authors sometimes have tendency, in order for our work to gain notoriety, explore controversial topics and often exploit one wrong doing or shortcoming by institutions of transitional justice and then offer no suggestion to our criticism. For me, Victor Peskin’s work is reflective of this short coming.

Peskin is not entirely wrong in his criticism of the ICTY and ICTR’s shortcoming to adequately prosecute both sides of the conflict. In Rwanda revenge killings by Tutsi’s certainly did take place, but they also certainly did not constitute genocide. If one wishes to view what Genocide in Rwanda looked like, you do not need to go further than viewing the preserved corpses of tutsi infants with machete marks across their skulls located at the Murambi memorial. What Peskin’s article insinuates is Double Genocide, a view that Hutus and Tutsis were equally responsible for the crimes committed in 1994, this view, while patently untrue, serves only to worsen the current state of relative peace of Rwanda and heighten ethnic divide in the country. Peskin’s work brings up important points of discussion but he does so in a manner that is more detrimental than beneficial to Rwanda.

Before submitting his work for publication Peskin should have asked himself one question, Who am I writing for? …For Victor Peskin?, or for Rwanda?

Mladic Capture Reaps Benefits

In October 2010 Serbia announced they had increased the reward for the capture of Mladic from 1.4 million to 14 million dollars. The international community has been pressuring the nation to pursue his capture to be tried by the indictments from the ICTY. Mladic’s capture would increase Serbia’s chances of entering the European Union, a club Serbia would benefit from joining. However, as mentioned in class, Mladic still has support and the ability to hide, but only for so long. After seeing the disguise and ridiculous actions of  Karadžić while in hiding it will be interesting to see what Mladic has been able to pull off. The arrest of Karadžić symbolizes the extent of the ICTY’s role in the region and the reality that arrest is inevitable.

Evaluating International Tribunals

Andrew’s post (below) raises the general question, addressed by both the Peskin and Barria and Roper articles, about how we should evaluate the legitimacy and effectiveness of international tribunals.  Peskin is critical of both the ICTY and ICTR for failing to achieve balanced prosecutions of individuals from warring parties on both sides, whereas Barria and Roper use the tangible measures of the extent to which the Tribunals have been able to apprehend elite perpetrators and the volume of indictments.

Are these fair and appropriate measures of  international tribunals’ successes and failures? What other measures should we consider?