Having evaded arrest for sixteen years, Ratko Mladic 'a fugitive from global justice' has emerged back onto the international arena. Accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnia War, Mladic, dubbed as Europe's most wanted criminal is held responsible for the bloodiest conflict since WW2; including the 1992-1995 Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica Massacre.
The Srebrencia Massacre or rather genocide has been described as 'the most pitiless massacre since the defeat of the nazis.' While the international community and U.N. peacekeepers looked on, Serb forces separated civilian men from their women and children while Mladic 'Only hours before his forces slaughtered thousands of civilians in Srebrenica, was handing out candy to Muslim children and promising their parents safe passage.' The events at Srebrenica mark the climax of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the most vicious and genocidal battlefront in the Balkans conflict. This is just a snapshot of Mladic's actions who will soon be facing trial at The Hague for these atrocities.
For some, Mladic's capture and pending trial highlights the eternality of international criminal justice; time will not erase wrongs. For others, it may raise difficult questions. It was only a few weeks ago that news agencies across the world were reporting the capture of yet another 'fugitive from global justice.' Arguably, also responsible for bloodshed and atrocities on an international scale, yet he was never indicted to any international criminal tribunal for his crimes. He wasn't Europe's most wanted criminal but rather; the world's most wanted man.
Any opportunity for Osama Bin Laden to access 'International criminal justice' was terminated with the same American bullet which ended his life in a targeted assassination.
Much controversy has surrounded the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, with many celebrating this as a fundamental success in the ten year fight against 'terror' whilst others protest against this extra-judicial execution as a flagrant breach of due process and international law. In the context of Mladic's arrest, Human Rights Watch assert that nobody is beyond the reach of the law. Why is it then, that some are left with no access to the law? Did Bin Laden's symbolism of 9-11 completely deny him of any human rights at all? Does this not provide an atrocity like 9-11 with a higher status of importance and outrage to that of the Srebrenica genocide? Is an atrocity not an atrocity? Both demanding that the executors of such acts are tried according to the law? This was the alternative for Bin Laden, yet it seems political motivations sometimes dictate the operation and suspension of international human rights instruments.
The purpose of this piece has not been to negate the undeniable progresses that are being made in international criminal justice. Rather to highlight the lacunae that still remain; 'how easily lofty and fundamentally important principles of humanity and fairness are cast aside when there is a vote in it or when primal vengeance is given its head by our leaders.' However, cases like that of Mladic are undoubtedly sending messages to the world's tyrants that the prospects of evading internationalcriminal justice are diminishing.
It is only a matter of time.