The Interaction between the Right to Be Present at Trial and the Underlying Goals of International Criminal Trials

in The Right to Be Present at Trial in International Criminal Law
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This chapter considers how trials in absentia serve the goals of international criminal law with a particular focus on the needs of the different participants in the international criminal process. Numerous different goals have been identified to justify conducting international criminal trials including: accountability, establishing the truth, reconciliation, peace, reinforcing the rule of law and reparations. There is no objective hierarchy to this list and the importance of each goal within the context of a particular trial depends on which group or groups the court or tribunal wants to vindicate. There are three groups international trials are meant to serve: the accused, victims of atrocity crimes and the international community as a whole. This chapter examines each of the above-named goals and considers whether the achievement of that goal will satisfy the needs of each of these groups and whether those desires can still be served in the absence of the accused. It generally concludes that the accused almost always has an interest in being present at trial, particularly when the specific trial goals are taken into consideration. With regard to the other two groups, the chapter finds that they do not necessarily have the same interest in seeing each of these goals accomplished making whether the court should proceed with a trial in absentia dependent on which group, and which goal, it is most interested in satisfying.

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