ICTYLegacy

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An ICTY exhibit, a satelite image of the Branjevo military farm where around 1,000 Bosnian Muslim men were executed in 1995 as part of the Srebrenica massacre (Photo: Flickr/ICTY)
25 May 2016 by Vladimir Petrovic

Ever since Justice Robert Jackson memorably promised to ‘establish incredible events by credible evidence’ in Nuremberg, expectations from international tribunals regarding establishment of historical record remain high. This is particularly the case with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The first international criminal court since the Nuremberg, the ICTY even explicated these implicit prospects, including establishment of facts among its crucial achievements listed on its website: "The tribunal has established beyond a reasonable doubt crucial facts related to crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia. In doing so, the tribunal’s judges have carefully reviewed testimonies of eyewitnesses, survivors and perpetrators, forensic data and often previously unseen documentary and video evidence. The tribunal’s judgements have contributed to creating a historical record, combating denial and preventing attempts at revisionism and provided the basis for future transitional justice initiatives in the region."

 

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Bosnian victims protesting outside the ICTY during the Karadzic judgement. The banner reads: 'Truth sometimes sleeps but never dies' (Photo: Joost van Egmond)
24 May 2016 by Joost van Egmond

“Finally, good news from The Hague!” famously cried the then Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic at the acquittal on appeal of former Yugoslav army commander Momcilo Perisic by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. For him, and for the government he represented, this counted as vindication of Belgrade’s actions during the war. The fact that Serbia as a state had already been held partly responsible by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the very crimes this individual was tried for, was swept under the carpet [IJT-63].

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Poster supporting Croatian general Ante Gotovina
23 May 2016 by Iva Vukusic in The Hague (The Netherlands)

These days Croatia is going through a surge of nationalism and historical revisionism unseen since the worst days of the war of the 1990s. The polarization in society is between those who consider the regime, known as Independent State of Croatia, a source of pride, and those who perceive it as a source of shame. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) deals with another past, less distant, but equally painful. The population is no more open to honestly discuss it than it is the crimes of the 1940s.