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'It is great to have such issues discussed in high schools'

Jajce, 9 April 2014

Not far from the centre of the Old Town of Jajce, nominated for UNESCO’s World Heritage List, is the Nikola Šop high school, whose students today welcomed ICTY Outreach representative, Almir Alić, and during a two-hour presentation shared their impressions of the importance of the Tribunal for the communities in the former Yugoslavia.  More than 50 students gathered to listen to Almir, and between them they asked numerous questions and made a variety of comments, demonstrating a high level of interest in and understanding of the wider context of international law. The students were, for example, interested to learn if the Tribunal has the authority to prosecute the crime of aggression and if paramilitary forces are banned under international law.

Almir was also asked what possible punishments could be meted out if someone reveals the identity of protected witnesses and he therefore explained how trials for contempt of court work at the Tribunal. 

Through their questions, it was clear that the students held widely differing views about the Tribunal. One 18-year old student stated his belief that the Tribunal is a political court and asked if it had ever been exposed to political pressure. His fellow student, on the other hand, stressed that he believed the ICTY’s independence is one of its most important qualities: “I’m pleased with how the Tribunal works, because only as such – in an unbiased manner – can it try war crimes committed in the region.

After the presentation, another 17-year-old student said she would like in future to have a similar job to Almir, and, in a very simple manner, underlined the importance of the ICTY’s work with young people by saying: “It’s great to have such issues discussed in high schools.