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Gabriele Chlevickaite and Barbora Hola

Insider witnesses play an indispensable role in many international criminal cases. Despite often being essential for linkage evidence, the use of insider witnesses comes with a set of special concerns regarding their credibility, in turn casting doubt on the reliability of their evidence. This explorative empirical study aims to fill the gap in the scholarship and presents an analysis of credibility and reliability assessments of insider witnesses at the International Criminal Court (icc). It critically evaluates the use of such testimony to see if, how, and which factors relating to credibility and reliability affect the probative value of the evidence provided. The findings indicate that the icc judges put a lot of emphasis on factors such as consistency or detail of testimonies, while factors such as potential bias or questionable motivation of the witness surprisingly do not figure as prominently in ascribing probative value to evidence.

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Barbora Hola, Catrien Bijleveld and Alette Smeulers


The sentencing practice of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is a relatively neglected topic in academic discussions. The few empirical studies on sentencing of international crimes have focused primarily on the sentencing practice of its 'sister court', the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Unlike ICTY defendants, almost all ICTR defendants have been convicted of and sentenced for genocide – arguably the most serious international crime. This empirical study examines the sentencing practice of the ICTR and analyses the relationship between sentence severity and the primary consideration in sentencing – crime gravity. The relevant principles stemming from ICTR case law are reviewed, followed by an examination of the interrelationship between sentence severity and factors relating to crime gravity, such as category of crime, scale of crime and the form and degree of a defendant's involvement in the crime. The ICTR judges appear in most cases to follow the main principles emphasized in their case law, with sentences gradated in line with the increasing seriousness of defendants' crimes and their culpability.

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Alette Smeulers, Maartje Weerdesteijn and Barbora Hola

The main aim of the International Criminal Court (icc) is to prosecute the most serious crimes of concern to the international community. One of the most valued features of the icc is the independent position of the Prosecutor in selecting situations and cases to investigate. The Prosecutor, however, has been heavily criticized for his selection policy and countries from the African Union even threatened to withdraw from the icc because of its alleged bias and unfair focus on African political leaders. In this article we present the results of our explorative study in which we empirically evaluate the situations selection policy of the icc Prosecutor. We conclude that given the icc’s limited jurisdictional reach, the Prosecutor is generally focusing on the gravest situations where international crimes are supposedly committed.

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Alette Smeulers, Alette Smeulers, Barbora Hola, Alette Smeulers, Barbora Hola and Tom van den Berg

The international criminal justice system comprises nine international criminal courts and tribunals; six are still operational and three have closed down. On average, they operated for almost nine years apiece and concluded 172 cases in which over 250 judges and 23 chief prosecutors were involved. All in all 745 suspects were indicted, 356 were actually tried and, of these, some 281 defendants were convicted. Currently 34 suspects are on trial and 22 are still at large. The ‘average’ convicted perpetrator is male, aged 40 and a member of a military or paramilitary organisation from Europe, Asia or Africa who is acting on behalf of his government. These are just some of the facts and figures which we present in this article: an overview of the empirical reality of the international criminal justice system which has currently been functioning for just over 65 years.

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Jessica M. Kelder, Barbora Holá and Joris van Wijk

While cited as one of the goals of international sentencing and used as a factor for deciding on early release, rehabilitation of perpetrators of international crimes has thus far been neglected by academia and practitioners. This article presents an analysis of all ICTY and ICTR early release decisions handed down until July 2013, indicating how the tribunals have conceptualised rehabilitation of these ‘enemies of mankind’. After observing that the success rate of rehabilitating international prisoners is very high, we suggest that this may be attributable to (i) a lack of the Presidents’ critical evaluation of the materials upon which he bases his conclusions regarding prisoners’ rehabilitation and (ii) the fact that perpetrators of international crimes are a ‘different kind of perpetrator’. We offer suggestions to re-conceptualise rehabilitation in the context of international crimes and to adjust the enforcement system of international sentences in order to better promote rehabilitation.