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The limits of retributive justice. Findings of an empirical study in Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Clark, Janine Natalya
June 4, 2015

Source: (2007) Journal of International Criminal Justice. 7:463-487.

Notwithstanding the recent proliferation of war crimes tribunals, a fundamental
question remains: whether the confidence that such institutions have generated
among their supporters is, in fact, justified. Using the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) as a case study, this article empirically
explores four reputed merits of criminal trials ç that they dissipate calls
for revenge, individualize guilt, establish a historical record and contribute to reconciliation.
It demonstrates that each of these claims, with the possible exception
of the first, is problematic, which, in turn, highlights the limits of retributive justice.
Hence, the article advocates the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission
in Bosnia to complement the ICTY’s work. It also maintains that our expectations
of war crimes tribunals need to be more realistic, in view of the obstacles and
challenges that they face, and that their mandates should be more specifically
tailored to the particular circumstances in which they are operating. (author’s abstract)


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