International court a step closer after Tadic verdict

The Solicitors Human Rights Group has renewed its call for the establishment of an International Criminal Court, following last week's trial of Dusan Tadic, the Bosnian Serb reserve policeman accused of war crimes, by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The tribunal found Tadic guilty on 11 lesser counts of persecutions and beatings but not guilty on nine counts of murder. A further 11 charges under the heading “Grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions” were declared inadmissible.

Peter Weiss, trainee solicitor at Nabarro Nathanson and co-chair of the Solicitors Human Rights Group International Criminal Courts Committee, believes that the prosecution is a “symbolic first step” towards the establishment of such a court and that it gives it a “recognised legal basis”.

He admitted that there were many administrative obstacles to overcome, such as the number of languages involved in the case, which increased the complexity and length of proceedings.

Weiss acknowledged that some commentators will see the whole exercise as a “waste of money which delivered a watered-down judgment” but he saw the judgment as a “triumph of justice” especially in the view of the “ineffective” Rwandan tribunals.

“It is very satisfying to see something is being done when human rights are violated like this,” he said.

Rae Lindsay, a partner in Clifford Chance's public international group, who volunteers her services on a pro bono basis to represent people from the Caribbean on death row, said the prosecution was “a historic step forward”.

She added: “This showed the international community acting together against violations of humanitarian law in relation to a civil war in the former Yugoslavia. But, we are yet to see whether it a wider endorsement for setting up the ICC.”