Life after conviction: the forgotten element

30 April 2014 by Tjitske Lingsma, The Hague (The Netherlands)

To date, international tribunals have provided little clarity on life after conviction. Barbora Hola and Joris van Wijk, criminologists at the Center for International Criminal Justice at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam, are running the research project “When Justice is Done”(*). They have been looking into the situations of more than 100 prisoners convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

Where are ICTY convicts sent?

Joris van Wijk: They are all sent to prisons in Europe. Generally the conditions in prisons in northern European countries are better than in the south of Europe. Prisons in the north organize more activities for inmates, they have single person cells and the wages for prison work are relatively higher. But in countries like France and Italy, convicts can end up in very crowded maximum-security prisons. Although, some ICTY convicts preferred to go to Italy, because it is closer to [the former-]Yugoslavia.

Barbora Hola: They face problems because of language barriers, culture and religion. Also they can feel very isolated, especially when they are far away from their families.

How about ICTR and SCSL?

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