Trial/Appellate chamber rotation at ICTY

Trial/Appellate chamber rotation at ICTY

The Srebrenica Historical Project has recently highlighted another area where the practice of The Hague Tribunal has been highly questionable – the fact that Hague trial and appeal panels are drawn from the same pool.

This means that every ICTY judge will serve as a trial judge in some cases and an appellate judge on others.  This breaks the universally accepted principle that there should be complete separation between trial and appellate judges.

Two legal experts generally supportive of the ICTY, Professor Michael Scarf and Professor William Schabas, both expressed their dismay.  

Scharf noted that UN general-Secretary Boutros Boutros Ghali had insisted on the separation of the trial and appellate chambers, but had been ignored.  The adoption of the rotation rules “is not the kind of decision one would expect from a Tribunal keenly aware of the need to be perceived as above reproach”, he wrote.

Schabas shared this concern and emphasised the practical advantages of separation: ““This would ensure a clear distinction between the two functions, effectively eliminate the possibility of a ‘contaminated’ judge sitting on an appeal, and probably help to reduce the potential for tensions among the judges themselves. It might also encourage States to nominate only the most senior and distinguished candidates for the Appeals Chamber.”

For the full coverage of these matters see the complete feature on the Srebrenica Historical project website: