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Audio Judge Kevin Parker talks about 'beyond reasonable doubt', 2008

TLF ID R9899

This is an edited sound recording of Kevin Parker, vice-president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), outlining the process of reaching a judgement. Parker stresses that a guilty verdict can only be based on a case being proven 'beyond reasonable doubt' through evidence brought before the Tribunal. He says that he sometimes wonders whether cases could or should have had different outcomes, and talks about how he deals with this. The recording was made in July 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives a frank insight into the personal challenges faced by a judge who has to weigh up whether guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The concept of beyond reasonable doubt is common to legal systems in Australia and other countries, and it is the standard of proof that applies in criminal trials in Australia that are heard before juries.
  • The ICTY has trial chambers comprising three judges. A finding of guilt may be reached only when at least two of the judges are satisfied that guilt has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. Trial chambers may impose sentences of imprisonment of up to and including the rest of a convicted person's life. In cases involving destruction of property, they may also make restitution orders. Guilty or not-guilty findings can be appealed.
  • At the time of this recording, Parker (1937-) was one of the 16 permanent judges of the ICTY, each elected by the United Nations General Assembly for a four-year term. ICTY judges are chosen to represent the main legal systems of the world. Permanent judges also sit on an appeals chamber, shared with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The UN Security Council has urged the tribunals to complete all trials by 2008 and all appeals by 2010.
  • In this recording Parker says that, following acquittals, he has often wondered whether there was other evidence that could have been brought before the ICTY and that could have resulted in convictions. He also says he has temporarily wondered whether findings were right whenever there is 'a large international reaction' to a verdict. However, he outlines a mechanism for overcoming his own post-verdict doubts.
  • The ICTY was set up by a resolution of the UN Security Council in 1993. Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, its objective is to bring to justice individuals responsible for serious breaches of international humanitarian law during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia since 1991. These breaches included massacres, forced movement of large-scale populations and destruction of civilian property.
  • 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-). Sir William Flood (1887-1972) was president of the Tokyo Tribunal.

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  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Name: Education Services Australia
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  • Person: Kevin Parker
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
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  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
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