The March 25 editorial on Radovan Karadzic’s conviction at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), “Justice, a quarter-century later,” correctly noted the delayed but welcome justice the conviction represents. However, it seemed a bit too hopeful on the effect of the conviction in the former Yugoslavia.
After the verdict, fellow ICTY indictee Vojislav Seselj led thousands in a Belgrade, Serbia, rally opposing it. Members of government throughout the region regularly throw “welcome home” parties for convicted war criminals and go to bat for high-ranking officials accused of war crimes before the domestic courts. In Serbia, every report from the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other nongovernmental organizations has lamented excessive political interference in domestic war-crimes proceedings, which have been few in number and low in quality.
The ICTY was created to convict the highest-ranking perpetrators. It also was meant to spur domestic processes to bring justice to many more victims, including a Long Island family, whom I represent, that had three sons kidnapped, executed and dumped into a mass grave by Serbian special forces near the end of the Kosovo war. Equally important, the ICTY was meant to determine the truth. Until such crimes are credibly reconciled and accepted by domestic authorities, we should be careful in celebrating the state of democracy in the former Yugoslavia.
Praveen Madhiraju, Washington