“This article discusses the legal merits and practical feasibility of advocating for a crimes against humanity prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the first international war crimes Tribunal since Nuremberg, in response to violence against Roma in Kosovo. The author argues that the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor could find sufficient evidence to indict former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army for crimes against humanity based on violence committed against Roma in 1998 and the summer of 1999. Such a prosecution would contribute to ongoing efforts to hold individuals accountable for crimes against Roma and deal with broader patterns of abuse against the Roma.

International criminal justice seeks to meld the goals of domestic criminal justice systems – deterrence and retribution – with broader transitional justice objectives. Tribunals such as the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, along with quasi-judicial institutions such as South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, seek not just to punish, but to contribute to national reconciliation, promote the rule of law in regions that were torn apart by violence, and create an accurate historical account of past atrocities.

At the most immediate level, prosecution at the ICTY would serve to punish and hold accountable those responsible for gross violations against Roma. Given the historical lack of redress, a prosecution could also serve a deterrent purpose by signaling that violence against Roma will no longer be tolerated. Prosecution would also establish a historical record of the crimes that occurred during the war, and perhaps serve as the basis for reparations programs or other forms of restitution to the victims of violence.”

Source: ERRC: Roma Rights Quarterly, 3 and 4, 2005, available at: