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Panel: Tribunals as restorative justice

February 8, 2010

Tribunals then. They are Criminal Tribunals, not in line with restorative justice. The target of a tribunal is to establish the “truth” regarding the real crime that was planned and who was behind it. The idea is only 15 or so years old… used in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and Rwanda currently, as well as Cambodia. Tribunals have a different scale and do not lend themselves to restorative justice because there are too many victims. With millions of victims it would take decades to include them all in a true sense of restorative justice.

The goal of tribunals is to establish an international rule of law, and to operationally define the crimes that would be tried in this arena (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, etc). They then have to put a face to that crime and punish that face. The position in which they function is not ideal. Many of the countries that have been involved in previous or ongoing tribunals have no great stake in discovering the “truth” or allowing anyone else that right. As a rule they are dependent on and a function of the domestic legal system in which they reside. Some may function well, while others have non-existent legal systems wiped out my mass atrocities…

Tribunals also seek to deter, on a global scale, mass atrocities. No one is in a position where they can will not be held accountable… even a president, as in the case of Liberal president being held responsible for aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sierra Leone… That brings us into another issue entirely, that of universal jurisdiction. And we will save that for another time.

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