A blog on Bosnia, the Balkans, and other random thoughts.
First of all, the Tribunal must not stop its work (ever!), because we need international accountability for crimes and prevention of crimes.Secondly, no person convicted by the ICTY should serve in their own country, because Serbia and Bosnia have laws (derived from communism) which let criminals run free on weekends, civic holidays, and even during working days (if they find jobs). It's shocking, but it happens!
Nothing shocking in principle about measures to ensure that individuals convicted of crime don't find themselves isolated and alienated from society. That's a different matter from ensuring accountability and protecting victims. And clearly the Stankovic episode suggests that prisoners' trips to the dentist need a little bit more thinking about.
I'm in two minds about it. On the one hand what Daniel says is true. And Owen we arent talking about criminals coming to the end of their sentences who need to reintegrate with society. These weekend trips go on with the agreement of the governor and probably some corrupt politician who has his own twisted agenda.On the other hand I do support the human rights of criminals (even the most distasteful).Still, you can be sure that many of these war criminals will receive a hero's welcome from 'domestic' prisoners and from some guards too. Why should they get this treatment?At least in the plain foreign prisons they serve in, they will be just another criminal serving their sentence. That is surely best way these people can reflect on what they have done, rather than being patted on the back by their criminal brethren which will mean they will never consider that what they did was wrong.No, it seems to me this is some attempt to make up for the fact that they were tried abroad in the first place ie appealing to national sentiment. How about this for a compromise? A select few are allowed to serve sentences in their homeland provided they fit a strict criteria which includes good behaviour and a minimum of say 2 years in a foreign prison?
I think there's a strong case for in-country trials and imprisonment - provided that the administrative procedures and security arrangements are up to the job. They enable victims to feel that they are part of the justice process and provide collaborators with a more immediate reminder of their own shared responsibility. Hopefully they communicate the message that the justice system is more than just an arbitrary exercise undertaken by external powers and institutions.Nevertheless it is vital for the big fish to be tried before international courts in places like The Hague, for the sake of security and impartiality but also as a way of emphasising the character of the crimes committed as offences against international humanitarian law embodied in globally applicable international conventions.
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