The Role Of Fairness In International Criminal Trials

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The prosecution of international crimes and the end of impunity are core goals of international criminal justice. However, they must be balanced with the rights of the accused and the necessity to have procedural safeguards in international criminal trials. Without such guarantees, the prosecution of heinous international crimes would lose its legitimacy, and the credibility of international criminal tribunals would be undermined. In this context, fairness is the criterion used to distinguish ‘victors’ justice’ from impartial criminal proceedings; to mark the boundary between an unlawful prosecution of international crimes, and the fight against impunity following the highest procedural safeguards. The peculiar nature of international criminal…show more content…
Through the analysis of fairness in international criminal procedure, the author gives an insightful account of the right to a fair trial and of its corollaries. This analysis is conducted looking at the law and practice of five international criminal tribunals, i.e. the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court, and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The author describes ‘fairness’ as a general category that includes a plurality of rights for the accused, and she indicates the relevant practice of international criminal tribunals in applying these rights. The overarching argument of the book is that fairness is a necessary element of international criminal trials and a paramount goal of international criminal justice. It must be guaranteed at the highest level, and a ‘just fair enough’ (p. 125) justice is not sufficient. In this regard, two main points are considered: (i) what ‘fairness’ in international criminal justice means and what its features are; and (ii) what standards of fairness are necessary for international criminal…show more content…
The author addresses the issues surrounding the right to a fair trial, both pointing out the challenges faced by international criminal tribunals and critically analysing the future prospects of the standards of fairness. Moreover, McDermott enriches the existing literature on the topic, advancing some controversial interpretations of the right to a fair trial and of how it should be guaranteed in international criminal proceedings. Even if the arguments presented are sometimes debatable, they undoubtedly show the strength and originality of McDermott’s contribution to the study of international criminal procedure. Indeed, studying and researching this field of law requires a cutting-edge approach that provokes a debate and helps our critical thinking. Fairness in International Criminal Trials is an essential reading for students of international criminal law as well as practitioners before international criminal tribunals. With an excellent balance between general analysis and a more technical study, this book speaks to the specialists of the field, and to all those who seek to understand how international criminal justice works, what the limits of this system are, and how the judges of international criminal tribunals can guarantee the prosecution of heinous crimes maintaining

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