A New Experience- BIH War Crimes Court

Walking into the war crimes court I was very intimidated. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have a trial translated into your own language and what that process was like, so that was very interesting to experience. It seemed like what it might feel like to be part of the UN. At first it was very distracting to have the headphones on and have English coming into my ears while I was hearing Bosnian being spoken. If I had been participating in an actual court case it may have been really difficult to be fully participating in the case.

I was really glad that so many people in our group had such great questions, because I was feeling overwhelmed by the whole experience. One of these great questions that were asked was the sentencing question. The judge said the sentencing level was from 10 to 45 years, but a lot of the sentences had to be reduced. It didn’t hit me that 45 years was the maximum number of years someone would serve for war crimes, until the judge referred to it as the most severe, and longest sentence. I’m used to hearing about so many people in the U.S getting sentences that are longer than 45 years, or getting a life sentence. I assumed that people involved in the systematic killing of people would also receive a life sentence. It upset me that people in the U.S who have committed a non-violent crime, might be in jail for the same amount of time as someone who was involved with this genocide, and with the war against civilians.

I’m interested to find out what their reintroduction system for incarcerated people is like, or if they even have something like that. Is there any worry that someone would stir up old issues with their neighbors and community members once they return to society? I can’t imagine how it would feel as a Muslim to hear that the person who was in charge of killing my family was released from prison. Do people feel like justice has been accomplished? It was comforting for Saliha to say that the only justice that matters is the justice of God.

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