Developing local capacity for war crimes trials : insights from BiH, Sierra Leone, and Colombia
Host item entries:
Stanford journal of international law, Vol. 49, issue 2, Summer 2013, p. 297-329
Generally, in post-conflict situations the domestic justice system is in a state of collapse. Doubts exist as to whether alleged perpetrators of international crimes will be prosecuted effectively, or as to whether they will receive a fair trial. International penal interventions are therefore envisaged as a way to assure individual accountability. Yet it has become increasingly clear that these tribunals themselves lack the capacity to deal with the vast majority of cases. If the tribunals' impact is to be enhanced, they will need to rely on national courts. The way out of this circle is for them to develop the capacity of local legal systems. This Article examines the impact of international tribunals on municipal legal systems by providing an in-depth, comparative analysis of four different international or internationalized tribunals-the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina-and their impact on the respective domestic legal systems. This Article critically examines the main direct and indirect ways in which the international community has sought to develop local capacity for war crimes trials, such as training initiatives, "on the job" knowledge transfer, and the provision of information and access to evidence. Yet, it argues that the focus in this area should be more on the structural or institutional aspects, such as the institutional position of the international or internationalized tribunal vis-a-vis the local judiciary, the law applicable before each tribunal, and the main features of each exit strategy.