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International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia: Planners and Instigators or Foot Soldiers?

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 11 Issue: 3 Dated: Autumn 2009 Pages: 345-357
Philip Caine
Date Published
13 pages
This study assessed the effectiveness of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in fulfilling its mandate to prosecute those most responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during the conflicts in the Former Yugoslavia.
The research found that prosecutorial policy in selecting individuals to investigate and potentially prosecute was influenced by factors and influences beyond the control of the prosecutor. Apart from Slobodan Milosevic and Tadovan Karadzic, none of the other "big guns" of the Balkans conflicts has been taken to The Hague for proceedings before the ICTY. Although this may be considered a failure of the ICTY, this research indicates that insufficient resources available to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), coupled with a weak mandate, has prevented the collection of sufficient evidence to indict the highest-level perpetrators. The OTP was drawn into a spiral in which the necessary pursuit of evidence led to the indictment of lower level suspects. The trials of these suspects consumed limited resources, which impeded pursuit of the highest-level perpetrators. Still, this research shows that the ICTY has achieved much in the field of international justice over the past 14 years. Numerous trials have been conducted in full compliance with the principles of fair trial; ICTY jurisprudence has provided clarification of many aspects of international substantive criminal law; and the ICTY has established a set of rules of procedure that govern pretrial, trial, and appellate proceedings. It is essential that the international community learn lessons from the experience of the ICTY, so as to ensure that future tribunals are given sufficient time and resources for the performance of their mandates. This research combined a literature-based assessment of the ICTY, along with focused interviews with the main decisionmakers in the OTP. 27 references