Monday, April 03, 2006

Taking International Criminal Justice seriously

In his article in 18 March 2006 issue of London-based magazine »The Spectator«, John Laughland nostalgically reminisces about his last encounter with Balkan butcher Milosevic. The article is entitled » A coffee, a smoke and a chat with Milosevic«. In the article he submits how lucky he was to meet personally with the Serbian butcher. In that article he undermines the status ICTY and its work to end impunity for heinous crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia.The tip of the iceberg comes in the last paragraph, which is reproduced below.

He starts his article with »I was one of the last western journalists to be meet Slobodan Miloševič….The Hague tribunal is like Dover in Act V of King Lear – nearly all main surviving protagonists of the Balkan wars are assembled in this improbable place….Milosevic was not in charge of Yougoslavia when it was falling a part…

Last paragraph goes as follows: Demonisation and denunciation are infectious viruses which can engulf large numbers of people very quickly. They are parasites on one of the core human vices, pride because they give the denunicator and intoxicating sense of superiority of object of his attack. Milosevic is the seventh defendant to dies in the Hague's tender care, following the trial in which almost every established precept of jurisprudence and international law has been violated by judges there. If the legacy of his death is de facto legitimsation of gross abuses committed in his name of international justice by this kangaroo court, then all our liberties are at risk.

Since I cannot agree in any respect with opinion expressed, I hereby submit my reply to Mr John Laughland and to the magazine The Spectator.

Taking International Criminal Justice seriously: A reply to John Laughland

Dear John Laughland,

I cannot embrace your comments on most of points since are alas not objective and disregard the progressive international criminal justice law in the last decades. Indeed, Miloševič was de facto in charge of Yugoslavia when it was falling apart. There are countless memoirs and other records available, which were published in last decade by major political actors involved in political scene when Yougoslavia was falling a part. You submission is therefore simply wrong and it deceives your readers.

The surrender of Slobodan Milosevic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia back in 2000 has focused world attention on the possibility of putting an end to impunity for individuals who commit gross atrocities during of war. War should not be used as a cover for genocide. It cannot used as a justification for murder and torture. And it cannot cloak the rape of innocent women and children.

Indeed, our liberties in international community would be put at risk if we would choose to disregard grave human rights violations committed anywhere and therefore to support a case fro impunity as you seem to suggest. You prove that you do no have any insight in operations of international criminal justice when you submit the ICTY violated every established precept of jurisprudence and international law. I ask you what means international human rights law for you in your lonesome opinion. By writing latter you give, in your words, yourself an intoxicating sense of superiority. I will explain what is international human rights law nowadays really about and why ICTY is not kangaroo court as you so mistakenly wrote.

International human rights law imposes a duty on states to investigate and prosecute violations committed within their jurisdictions, and the primary duty to end impunity rests with the state authorities where the violation is committed. However all too often, violators are not brought to justice in their own countries. The sight of large scale human suffering and mass violations of human rights and humanitarian law in recent years has given new impetus to international determination to bring violators to justice. Accountability for international crimes is increasingly viewed as a matter of concern for the international community as a whole, and there has been a trend towards the establishment of international mechanisms for criminal justice. International criminal tribunals were established by the UN Security Council in response to the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and in July 1998, states agreed to establish a permanent international criminal court to try perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Despite these important moves to create a system of international criminal justice, for the foreseeable future there will still remain a role for national courts in prosecuting those suspected of international crimes who come within their borders. We already have some indications of how this will work. One example is Germany’s proceedings against suspected war criminals from former Yugoslavia. Since 1992 Germany has apprehended four individuals suspected of involvement in atrocities in the conflict in former Yugoslavia. However, two of the most important war criminal from Yugoslav war, Mladić and Karadžič are still at large.

The effective exercise of universal jurisdiction is one important tool in the struggle to end impunity for international crimes. Most European states have accepted universal jurisdiction for the prosecution of war criminals and human rights violators through ratifying international treaties, and many have exercised jurisdiction on this basis during the 1990s. Nevertheless, an adequate legal basis for exercising universal jurisdiction remains lacking in many instances.

We need to support the International Criminal Court because it is in the everybody's interest to do so and because it will bring international criminals to justice. We need support the tribunals because they will protect and promote the very ideals and freedoms for which people around the world have fought and died. We need support the efforts of international criminal justice because a more stable world community, where gross criminal conduct is not tolerated, ensures a safer world in which every persons can live, work, trade and travel. Not to do so would be to the detriment not only of those living today and but also of our future generations.

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