ICTY and the Question of Justice

TitleICTY and the Question of Justice
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsŠimić, G
JournalThe Harvard Human Rights Journal
Date Published12/2017

It is strange how people think that criminal law is at its best when the perpetrator is discovered and sent to jail. Unfortunately, every time that happens, criminal law has actually “suffered one more defeat” in the face of what would be the ideal solution: not to have criminal offences, perpetrators, or victims at all. This is best illustrated in mass atrocities committed during conflicts (or “war crimes”). By influencing (and mostly destroying) human lives on a large-scale, war crimes raise questions that are not so easily observed in “ordinary” criminal law cases. Like “ordinary” criminal offences, just on a larger scale, war crimes (as mass crimes) raise the question of the purpose and the role of criminal law (and international criminal law) in our society. Furthermore, there is a question of the societies we have created, the invention (and failure) of criminal law to as a means of prevention, and the reality of acting post facto, when crimes have already been committed and lives and property have already been destroyed; not of some imaginary “ones”, but living human beings, who hope that criminal law will help them overcome that suffering and carry on living; help them to find justice. Or, maybe the best way to describe would be with the words of one of the victims of war crimes: Life was once so beautiful. Carefree and joyful. Playful in the never-ending flowery fields of my childhood. Illuminated by the love and care of my parents. It was about the beautiful, carefree life in your own home. And then one day. It all disappeared.