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"Peace and justice go hand-in-hand"

Tuzla, 17 October 2012

Justice is a crucial element of national reconciliation as it provides a sense of redress for wrongs committed during wartime and by doing so breaks the cycle of violence and vengeance. This was the main conclusion from a lecture on the ICTY’s major achievements in war crimes prosecution, organized at Tuzla Law Faculty on 17 October 2012.

During a two-hour presentation, Aleksandar Kontić, Head of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) Transition Team showed a group of over 80 students and teaching staff how the Tribunal changed the culture of impunity in the former Yugoslavia. He discussed how the ICTY had brought a sense of justice to the region in line with the aims that the founders of the Tribunal had put at the very centre of its mandate. Young lawyers in Tuzla learnt how the Tribunal puts this ideal into practice when Kontić described the procedural stages and milestones in the ICTY’s work. The students also showed great interest in lessons learnt and practices developed by OTP in almost 20 years of war crimes prosecution.

A question on access to state archives for the purpose of evidence collection sparked a discussion, in which some students claimed that that the countries in the region would rather keep many documents under seal than let them be publicly scrutinized during ICTY or national proceedings.

The students were also interested to learn the reasons for the decision to acquit Karadžić on one count of genocide in BiH municipalities other than Srebrenica. The OTP representative explained in detail the rules of procedure and evidence, the reasoning of the Trial Chamber in this case, and noted that the OTP has appealed the decision.