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Audio Judge Kevin Parker discusses grave human rights violations, 2008

TLF ID R9895

This is an edited sound recording of Kevin Parker, vice-president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), describing his response to the extent and gravity of war crimes and other human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. Suggesting that such crimes can be committed by 'ordinary' people in situations of 'mass emotion', he expresses hope that the work of international tribunals will help to prevent them recurring. The recording was made in July 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The major theme of this interview is Judge Kevin Parker's (1937-) realisation that under certain circumstances 'ordinary' people can collectively commit offences that individually they would never have thought themselves capable of. Parker says that at times of great civil unrest when an intense sense of hatred has built up between different ethnic or religious groups, a kind of 'mass hysteria' can take over.
  • This recording gives an idea of the scale of some of the cases that have come before the ICTY and another tribunal set up to manage cases in Rwanda. Parker gives examples of one person being accused of the deaths of 2,000 people and another being accused of causing the displacement of 100,000 people from their homes. In another case about 8,000 people were murdered in just a few days.
  • The human rights crimes committed in the early 1990s during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and in 1994 in Rwanda, in Parker's own words, show a 'prolonged, terrible degree of inhumanity' that Parker suggests is beyond the comprehension of most people. He explains that being a judge in Australia did not prepare him for the extent and severity of crimes that he was exposed to in his job as an international criminal court judge.
  • Parker suggests there could be local and worldwide benefits from the International Criminal Tribunals' investigations and prosecutions of human rights crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He says the identification, conviction and punishment of individuals should serve as a warning to everyone who is exposed to civil unrest to guard against losing 'your sense of right and wrong' as that can lead to 'grave and callous indifference to the life and wellbeing of others'.
  • As well as hearing ICTY cases, Parker has heard appeals against convictions in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) because the two tribunals share appeals judges. The ICTY is based in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICTR is based in Arusha in Tanzania. Both tribunals were established under resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, which urged them to complete all trials by 2008 and all appeals by 2010.
  • As vice-president of the ICTY, Parker has continued a tradition of Australian leadership in the creation and development of international criminal law. Parker is a former judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia and, as of 2008, has been one of 16 judges of the ICTY since 2003. Two other Australians have served on the ICTY bench - Sir Ninian Stephen (1923-) and David Hunt (1935-).

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Kevin Parker
  • Description: Author
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
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  • Audio
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.