On 7 April, I commenced a six month internship in the Immediate Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Tribunal was established by the United Nations in 1993 to deal with the war crimes that took place during the conflicts in the Balkans throughout the 1990s.
The ICTY is comprised of three main branches, the Chambers (Judges), the Registry and the Office of the Prosecutor. The Immediate Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for the overall management of the Prosecutor’s Office.
Since its creation, the Tribunal has indicted 161 accused for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Those indicted include heads of state, prime ministers, army chiefs-of-staff, interior ministers as well as other high and mid level political, military and police leaders from parties related to the Yugoslav conflicts. Proceedings have concluded for 147 accused and proceedings for 14 accused are ongoing.
The Tribunal offers three to six month internships to qualified candidates who wish to gain experience working in the field of international criminal law. At present there are around 70 interns working across the three branches of the Tribunal. The interns are from all over the world and bring with them a variety of experiences.
It was useful for me to spend my first week of the internship familiarising myself with some of the ICTY cases. Having spent some time working in the Queensland Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, it is particularly interesting for me to note how international criminal law differs from domestic criminal law in terms of the volume of the cases and the way in which criminal liability is established.
Being in the public gallery for the delivery of the Appeals Chamber Judgement in the Zdravko Tolimir case was also fascinating for me. In this case, the Appeals Chamber granted (fully or partially) four of the accused’s 25 grounds of appeal. The remaining grounds of appeal were dismissed. Tolimir’s life sentence for war crimes committed in the Srebrenica and Žepa enclaves in 1995 was confirmed.
The Immediate Office of the Prosecutor is also working on a book about prosecuting sexual violence. Assisting with this project has allowed me to familiarise myself with some of the ICTY cases that contain elements of sexual violence and the way in which perpetrators can be held to account for sexual violence that occurs during a conflict.
I look forward to keeping you updated about my work at the Tribunal going forward.