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Abbreviated Criminal Procedures for Core International Crimes

Sarajevo, 9 October 2009

Seminar concept | Koncept i program seminara | Programme |  Registration | Documents

Proper mapping and prioritization do not alone resolve the problem of large backlogs of core international crimes cases. In some jurisdictions the annual capacity to process such cases is so low compared to the total number of open case files that most suspects and witnesses will die before their cases come to trial. This is, for example, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the Council of Ministers adopted a National War Crimes Strategy on 28 December 2008 which limits the process of war crimes prosecutions to 15 years from the time of adoption of the Strategy.

In these situations the cases against the majority of the core international crimes suspects are likely not to be prioritized. The existing criminal procedures are simply unable to process all cases, despite the best intentions and efforts of the criminal justice professionals concerned. What should be done with the open case files that are left unprocessed? Should they just linger and be closed when suspects die or become too frail to stand trial? Should they be transferred out of the criminal justice system to alternative, non-judicial mechanisms, despite the fact that they have an established case file name or number?

This seminar explored whether abbreviated criminal procedures can be designed to process higher numbers of core international crimes cases within the criminal justice system in ways that deal more effectively with large backlogs of opened case files, especially cases involving less serious crimes. Is innovation required to ensure that already-opened core international crimes cases are processed by prosecutors and judges, rather than by non-judicial staff in alternative mechanisms? The seminar was not directly concerned with the situation in those territorial States where many core international crimes have been committed but no or very few case files are opened.

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