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Programs for the Topic ‘War Crimes’


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.

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