Tuesday, May 04, 2010

ICTY / International Tribunals

Int'l Criminal Justice under Pressure
By Heikelina Verijn Stuart
Radio Netherlands, May 4, 2010
"The principle of guilt, which guarantees that persons are held responsible for the actions for which they have personal responsibility, was emphatically embraced by judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in their very first verdict. They echoed the principle of the Nuremberg judges 'criminal guilt is personal.' The principle of nullum crimen -- presumption of innocence -- has been emphatically identified as a starting point of international criminal law. The ICTY judges in the Celebici trial regarded it as a 'solid pillar.' And the third principle, fair labelling -- the clear description of the crime and qualification which result in the suspect being prosecuted and potentially convicted for criminal facts which match his behaviour -- was adopted as a starting point by the ICTY. However, when these principles are applied to the reality of the violence and cruelty of wars and other major conflicts, notions of human rights and humanitarian rights dominate.
While the fundamental principles of criminal law forbid an expansive interpretation of norms, in the human rights system and in international humanitarian law this expansion represents a victory over states and their system. The rights and interests of the victims and of humanity and the human race as a whole have been wrested from states. The rights of suspects seem to have been relegated to second place. The ICTY's website is less than reassuring in this respect. 'Bringing war criminals to justice, bringing justice to victims' it proclaims on its homepage. A revealing play on words. [...]"

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