Vlasenica, 19 March 2013
The guest lecture at the High School Center “Milorad Vlačić” in Vlasenica was a very interesting experience for the ICTY Outreach representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina due to a lively discussion and great interest that fourth-year students expressed for war crimes issues.
The first video footage in the presentation containing a testimony related to the Sučica camp located in this municipality compelled some students to reflect on human suffering that occurred during the conflict.
Students discussed the punishment for perpetrators of war crimes. One student made a comment that for many people in the victim community the Tribunal’s sentences rendered “do not reflect the gravity of crimes”. Other students wanted to learn more about sanctions in place in cases of false testimony before the Tribunal, but also about issues related to the wider process of facing the past, such as if justice and reconciliation could be achieved solely through work of war crimes courts.
One student asked how a chamber knows that one’s admission of guilt was not false or forced. Almir explained that, in order to accept a plea of guilty, the chamber has to be satisfied that it is voluntary, informed, unequivocal, and that the facts point to the accused’s responsibility for the crime or crimes he is charged with.
In their comments, the students reflected on the possibility of reconciliation. They were rather sceptical. One student underscored “the huge gap between the communities that has built up over the years” and “too much hate in people”.