The conviction today of the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide and crimes against humanity is a welcome and long overdue development.
As president of the self-declared Bosnian Serb republic Karadzic presided over what remains the biggest organised slaughter of Muslims in modern Europe following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1992.
IHRC is pleased that the genocide of 8000 innocent unarmed men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 following a long siege by armed forces under his command has finally received formal recognition.
It is vital that crimes of this scale are recognised for what they are. Although the 40-year prison sentence handed down to Karadzic is an insult to the many thousands of people who suffered from his fanatical nationalism, we can all take some comfort in the fact that the ICTY has carried out its responsibility in successfully prosecuting him.
Anything less would have sent the signal to other would-be war criminals that the international community is powerless or unwilling to act against state organised industrial-scale mass murder.
IHRC is nevertheless disappointed that Karadzic was found not guilty of another count of genocide for attacks on a string of other Bosnian towns and villages. We feel that this detracts from the imperative of recognising the wider Bosnian Serb campaign against independence-seeking Bosnia as a genocide.
IHRC chair Massoud Shadjareh said: “Forty years in prison is disproportionate in comparison to the tens of thousands killed at Karadzic’s hands and also in comparison to the Nuremberg trials which delivered longer sentences.”
Notes to editors:
IHRC’s report, Politics or Justice: Differentiating between the Nuremberg Trials and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia by Demir Mahmutcehajic can be read at http://www.ihrc.org.uk/attachments/7770_01DurbanPoliticsorJustice.pdf
IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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