The Future of War Crimes Prosecutions in the Former Yugoslavia: Accountability or Junk Justice?
Abstract

As a result of pressure from the UN Security Council, the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) announced a completion strategy: the ICTY is to finish investigations by 2004, trials by 2008, and appeals by 2010. The remaining war crimes cases will be turned over to the former Yugoslavia for domestic prosecutions. Insufficient attention is being paid to the impact of the ICTY's pledge to return cases to the former Yugoslavia. While this concept sounds good and appeals to international donors, an examination of the situation casts doubt on its wisdom. This article summarizes the status of the domestic criminal justice systems and war crimes prosecutions in the former Yugoslavia and concludes that domestic legal systems are currently unable to handle even routine criminal matters, much less war crimes prosecutions. While it is preferable for domestic systems to handle their own war crimes prosecutions, the author argues that it makes little sense to return such prosecutions to the former Yugoslavia at this time because those systems do not currently have the capacity or political will to support them.


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