Oct 29, 2009

An audience with Radovan Karadzic. Location: The Hague

The Hague has a long history of overseeing international law, the latest being the trial of Serbian Radovan Karadzic, accused of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Too bad he was a no show, writes Grant Doyle.

The women, mostly elderly, with worn faces framed by scarves, and wearing layers of long flowing clothes and thick heavy coats, sit around tables in the foyer of the Hotel Novotel World Forum, The Hague, Netherlands. Most carry small handkerchiefs, which are well used from wiping eyes, while some flick through family photos or drink coffee, as delegates to the “X Factor” convention file by.

Occasionally, a short, stocky man with dark complexion and carrying a small camera case, ushers a few of the women outside the hotel, past the snaking queue of media vans with their satellite dishes, and onto the open grassed forecourt in front of the adjacent building housing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where the women stand hunched and have microphones thrust in their faces by television reporters from around the globe, and are asked questions — through an interpreter — while they hold up placards with shaking arms or point to the printing on specially made T-shirts for the occasion.

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4 thoughts on “An audience with Radovan Karadzic. Location: The Hague

  1. Rena Zurawel

    First to stand the trial in Hague should be Holbrook and Clinton

  2. Grant Doyle

    Rena, that would require a separate institution, most likely the International Court of Justice (also in The Hague), because the ICTY has no authority to prosecute states for aggression or crimes against peace.

    The Tribunal only has authority to prosecute and try individuals on four categories of offences: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity, as they relate to the Balkans conflict in the former Yugoslavia from 1991 onwards.

    The International Criminal Court (again, in The Hague; they do have a monopoly on this sort of thing) could also have been an option for what you desire because it can prosecute individuals ‘accused of the most serious crimes of international concern’ under the aegis of its Rome Statute. But guess who’s not a signatory?

  3. JIlly

    An Outline Whereby ICTY Judges Should Judge Radovan Karadzic

    By Jill Starr

    At the end of the day, some three years from now in the final judgment of Radovan Karadzic’s case being tried at the ICTY,


    in morally judging his guilt or innocence insofar as whether he is directly responsible for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and isolated incidents of rape and summary executions during Srebrenica,

    first and foremost, the ICTY judges have a duty, a ”Noblesse oblige” if you will (used to imply that with wealth, power and prestige come responsibilities of morality-even in judging Radovan Karadzic and the other Bosnian Serbs awaiting trials/appeals at the Hague’s highest court),

    The ICTY judges have an international duty to compare, contrast and analyze the annals of human history of war, torture and war crimes before rendering their judgement in the case. Why?

    When analyzing rapes, executions, pilgrimages and torture of former wars,even dating back as far as Medieval Times, cases in point: American soldiers in Vietnam, the Roman Catholic Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition in which women were sexually tortured and burnt alive at the stake, as well as the Abu Ghraib torture scandal recently in Iraq, we discover that the soldiers guilty of these monstrous acts, are themselves guilty and should be tried and sentenced,

    HOWEVER, one can not rationally say that for instance President Bush was directly responsible for the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in Iraq merely owing to the matter of fact he was the United States President at that time.

    By the same token we can not reasonably conclude Radovan Karadzic is directly
    responsible and guilty for the crimes against humanity lower level Serb soldiers
    committed against Muslims in Srebrenica.

    For the American and international news media to at this premature point in time to try swaying everyone watching it daily insofar as the Karadzic case, and for this media to daily pronounce Karadzic’s so-called ”guilt” saying ”he is responsible for the crimes that in actuality, may or may have not occurred at Srebrenica,” even before the evidence and trial has even taken place and been presented; is morally wrong and illegal in and of itself.

    This entire judgement remains murky and leaves a tremendous ”reasonable doubt” hanging over whether Radovan Karadzic is directly responsible for ordering executions in Srebrenica.

  4. John Bennetts


    Let’s just wait for the evidence to be presented before we feed the speculation. The judgement you criticize won’t even exist till 2012 at the earliest.

    I cannot fathom what 1100 staff and $US342 million do for years on end when there is no trial in front of them. The UN and its many armies of civillian staff spread throughout Europe and around New York seem to me to be bloated beyond belief and expensive beyond justification. Imagine what good even half of these resources could achieve if applied to the survivors’ cause, rather than to whatever they currently achieve.

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