International Criminal Justice Processes in Rwanda and Sierra Leone: Lessons for Liberia
Charles C. Jalloh and Olufemi Elias, eds., Shielding Humanity: Essays in International Law in Honour of Judge Abdul G. Koroma, Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Brill, June 2015 pp. 447-509
68 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2015 Last revised: 12 Aug 2015
Date Written: March 6, 2015
This article seeks to evaluate the role and contributions of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) to the task of dispensing justice to those most responsible for the commission of international crimes during the Rwandan and Sierra Leonean conflicts. The authors contrast those two situations to that of Liberia, where a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up in lieu of criminal accountability. We argue that part of the unfair criticism of international criminal law is driven by the unrealistic expectation that ad hoc criminal courts such as the ICTR and the SCSL cannot only mete out credible justice, but also help to restore peace and promote national reconciliation in deeply divided post conflict societies. We submit that, even in best case scenarios, such courts can only serve justice to individual perpetrators of horrific crimes in fair trials that complies with their statutes and international human rights law. We therefore call for a return to their primary intended roles as criminal courts when evaluating their legacies. Toward that end, we test the work of the ICTR and the SCSL against eight factors relevant to assessing their achievements and limitations as criminal courts. We show that, although ours is not an empirical study, it appears that those special tribunals made important contributions to the process of giving justice to victims of atrocity crimes in Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
Keywords: Special Court for Sierra Leone, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Charles Jalloh, Andrew Morgan
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