Adding fuel to the fire’: Unconditional early release of perpetrators convicted by the ICTY, Views from Bosnia and Herzegovina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite being found guilty of atrocity crimes, 54 of the 90 perpetrators sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) were granted Unconditional Early Release (UER) between 1998 and 2018. As such, they were free to return, often to be greeted as heroes by welcoming crowds. Some high profile figures rejected the ICTY’s verdict, such as Plavšić, asserting that she had done “nothing wrong”. This article sets out how the Tribunal thwarted an expressive value it had purported to achieve through trials and sentencing some of the most egregious crimes known to humankind when they granted UER. This expressive value was an authoritative stigmatization of the perpetrator and their crimes. This perceived de-stigmatization had, in turn, the capacity to be manipulated by political elites, in an ethnically-divided, post-conflict society, to challenge the historical record of the atrocities in the Former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. This article analyzes the societal ramifications of UER, as it examines local reactions to UER which emerged from 51 interviews conducted in BiH. In January 2019, this practice changed and conditions were attached to early release. Nevertheless, the negative repercussions caused by UER over 18 years provide an important lesson to learn for other ICTs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Human Rights
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • ICTY
  • Unconditional early release
  • Expressivism
  • War Criminals
  • Victims
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

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