Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach

Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach

Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach

Guilty Pleas in International Criminal Law: Constructing a Restorative Justice Approach

Synopsis

International crimes, such as genocide and crimes against humanity, are complex and difficult to prove, so their prosecutions are costly and time-consuming. As a consequence, international tribunals and domestic bodies have recently made greater use of guilty pleas, many of which have been secured through plea bargaining. This book examines those guilty pleas and the methods used to obtain them, presenting analyses of practices in Sierra Leone, East Timor, Cambodia, Argentina, Bosnia, and Rwanda.

Although current plea bargaining practices may be theoretically unsupportable and can give rise to severe victim dissatisfaction, the author argues that the practice is justified as a means of increasing the proportion of international offenders who can be prosecuted. She then incorporates principles drawn from the domestic practice of restorative justice to construct a model guilty plea system to be used for international crimes.

Excerpt

Fifty years after the victorious allies brought Axis war criminals to justice at the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council established an ad hoc tribunal to prosecute those accused of international crimes in the former Yugoslavia. The years that had elapsed between the creation of the World War II tribunals and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) saw thousands of atrocities that resulted in millions of deaths but that were followed by virtually no prosecutions. Thus, the establishment of the ICTY, and then a year later, an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the slaughter of approximately eight hundred thousand Tutsi in Rwanda (ICTR), was met with great fanfare. The first trial at the ICTY—the prosecution of a low-level sadist named Duško Tadić—similarly garnered enormous scholarly and popular interest and was considered a turning point in the quest to end the impunity that has so often followed mass atrocities.

The early years of the tribunals were fraught with obstacles, many of them exacerbated by the international community’s failure to provide adequate financial support to the tribunals. Over the years, the international community came to better fund the tribunals and better assist their enforcement efforts; consequently, a decade after they were established, the ad hoc tribunals have developed into functioning criminal justice institutions. The ICTY and ICTR have also spawned a number of progeny, including the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Special Panels in the Dili District Court in Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor), the Extraordinary Chambers in the courts of Cambodia, and, most importantly, a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). Domestic prosecutions of inter-

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