Monday, April 09, 2007

Getting Away with Genocide

The New York Times has a slightly alarming piece today about the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) February verdict in Bosnia's genocide suit again Serbia. The suit had claimed that Serbia (then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) committed genocide in Bosnia through the Bosnian Serb army during the war there (1992-95). The court found in Serbia's favour. I was not alone in being unimpressed by this.

Apparently, a large volume of Serbian military records were excluded from the trial, despite already being in the Hague. The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) had them in their possession, but the version passed on to the ICJ had large portions blacked out, in the 'security' interests of Serbia. Apparently they would have made a pretty clear case for Bosnia. The ICJ made little or no attempt to procure them.

This is worrying not only because it prevents the historical exposure of one of the worst crimes of the post-Cold War era, but because of what it says about the dispensation of justice in the Hague. The Dutch seat of government is now by a wide margin the global centre for the practice of international law. Not only were the the documents themselves kept sealed, the discussion surrounding them has come to light only through a patchwork of leaked facts and anonymous sources.

The process of justice, in this instance, is a murky as the submerged facts of the case. This does not bode well for those of us who would like international criminal law taken a bit more seriously, no for the prospect of justice itself.
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