Criminal Justice, Sentencing and Atrocity Crimes

ICL Lunch with Assistant Professor Barbora Hola from VU Amsterdam presenting a Comparative Empirical Study of the ICTY and Domestic Courts in Bosnia and Herzegovnia

Perpetrators of international crimes committed during the armed conflict in the Former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s have been prosecuted by courts at all levels of enforcement of the international criminal justice system: international, internationalized and domestic. Dozens of selected individuals have been tried at the international level by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (“ICTY”), while domestic courts in the successor countries of the Former Yugoslavia have dealt with the vast majority of perpetrators. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the (initially) internationalized State Court at the central federal level and cantonal courts and district courts at the entities level have together prosecuted hundreds of perpetrators international crimes.

The simultaneous and largely uncoordinated activities of these different legal systems operating within different socio-political and legal-cultural contexts have generated widely reported incidents of “vertical inconsistency” of sentencing of those found responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. As “the most responsible” are sentenced by the ICTY, their allegedly more lenient sentences easily fuel ideas of “those most responsible getting off the lightest”. Both legal scholars and the general public assume - on the basis of mainly anecdotal evidence - that sentencing at the ICTY and at the domestic courts is widely inconsistent. However, no systematic empirical inquiry of sentencing of perpetrators of international crimes committed during the Bosnian war has ever been conducted.

This presentation presents the findings of an original empirical study comparing sentencing of defendants tried and convicted at the ICTY and those punished by the domestic courts in Bosnia. It will discuss cross-fertilization, and discrepancies, between the sentencing jurisprudence and practice of the ICTY and national jurisdictions and address the allegations of vertical inconsistency of international sentencing.



Pluricourts holds a monthly international criminal law (ICL) lunch, where an invited ICL expert gives a presentation on a topic of their choice, followed by questions from the audience. The aim is to provide a wide-ranging lecture series, giving varied insights into what is happening within the field of ICL today. We invite speakers from different backgrounds, and have had presentations from Norwegian- based and international academics, as well as speakers from local agencies who work with ICL-related issues, such as Kripos and the Norwegian Red Cross. The lunches also function as a meeting point for those who are interested in ICL, allowing for ideas to be exchanged and developed. They are open to the public, and are attended by staff, students and those working in ICL in the Oslo area.

Tags: Criminal law
Published Jan. 26, 2017 11:04 AM - Last modified Feb. 21, 2020 7:53 AM