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Tuesday March 15th, 2011

Tribulations of Trials: Challenges of High Level International Criminal Trials

Brenda Hollis, The Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone

Tuesday March 15, 2011, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Sponored by the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center Lecture in Global Legal Reform at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law

In her lecture, Ms. Hollis discusses many of the challenges facing the practitioner engaged in complex litigation involving high level accused. These challenges include achieving a workable reconciliation of diverse regional, national and international goals of such litigation, carrying out complex investigations in diverse locations and among diverse cultures, identifying potential suspects, determining how to identify, approach, select and protect “insider” witnesses, vulnerable victims and survivors, doctors, local authorities, personnel from international agencies or others who have “overview” evidence, how to deal with traumatized victims and survivors who may speak a different language and may be called upon to travel outside their local communities, even outside their countries, to testify, preparing indictments which are reflective of the crimes committed but also capable of timely judicial resolution. The challenges in such cases also include how to maximize efficiency while ensuring the evidence meets the required burden of proof, the key to which is meeting the challenge of collecting, organizing, maintaining, retrieving and analyzing large amounts of information both for use in trial and to ensure compliance with very broad disclosure rules.

The legal challenges include developing or refining positions on issues of procedural law and of substantive law for crimes such as conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or using them to participate actively in hostilities and for forms of liability such as joint criminal enterprise or common plan, design or purpose. The lecture will also consider the challenges involved in proving the “linkage” between high level accused and the crimes charged where the accused are often not charged with direct commission of offences and may not have been in the country where the crimes were being committed.

Brenda Hollis currently serves as The Prosecutor, Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), with overall responsibility for the functioning of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), the effective and efficient conclusion of the prosecution of the case against Charles Taylor and the supervision of any appeal which may result, the preparation of the OTP for the closure of the SCSL and the transition into the follow on Residual Court for Sierra Leone, which will have responsibility for all continuing legal obligations of the Court and for maintaining the Court archives. Prior to her appointment as The Prosecutor, Ms. Hollis served as the Principal Trial Attorney in the Taylor case from February 1997 to February 2010. Ms. Hollis was associated with the SCSL/OTP in the capacity of legal advisor in 2002, 2003 and 2006, advising on substantive and procedural legal requirements, suggesting investigative and prosecutorial protocols, preparing indictments, including the amended indictment against Charles Taylor, and preparing that case for trial after Mr. Taylor was transferred to the custody of the SCSL.

Prior to her association with the SCSL, Ms. Hollis worked in several capacities in the Office of the Prosecutor, International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslav (ICTY), serving as an investigative team legal officer, trial attorney, senior trial attorney and appellate attorney for the first appellate cases. Her duties at the ICTY included assisting the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) with internal management issues, final trial preparation for the first ICTR trials and initial trial preparation for the propaganda trial. Ms. Hollis has acted as a consultant on international criminal law matters, assisting groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Columbia in the preparation of submissions to the ICC requesting that investigations be opened in those countries. She also participated in training seminars for judges, prosecutors and investigators of the ad hoc Indonesian Human Rights Courts and the Iraqi Higher Criminal Court, and provided technical assistance to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Ms. Hollis served for over 20 years in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel; prior to her military career, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal and Niger, West Africa.