Audio Judge Kevin Parker outlines the complexity of the ICTY process, 2008

TLF ID R9896

This is an edited sound recording of Kevin Parker, vice-president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), outlining the size and complexity of cases heard by the Tribunal. He says every case involves working in at least three languages to accommodate victims, witnesses, accused, lawyers and judges, and that judges hear evidence from many witnesses and receive hundreds of pages of documents. He says the average trial takes a year and a half, but one case has lasted more than four years. The recording was made in July 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording gives an insight into the difficulties of handling complex trials of people accused of breaches of international humanitarian law. It illustrates that the cases typically involve large numbers of people who speak different languages and that the process of interpretation causes delays. It also shows how judges then need time to review many months of evidence before they are able to deliver verdicts.
  • In the recording, Kevin Parker (1937-) says that some cases before the ICTY have involved working in up to six languages. Typically, the cases involve members of one ethnic community being accused of carrying out crimes against at least one other ethnic community. Language is one of the primary elements of ethnic identification.
  • English and French are the two official working languages of the ICTY. However, an accused person has the right to use his or her own language during pre-trial questioning and during the trial. People appearing as witnesses who do not have sufficient knowledge of either English or French can also use their own languages. Languages commonly used by defendants and witnesses in an ICTY trial are Albanian, Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.
  • One criticism of the ICTY is that many of its hearings have taken too long to reach a conclusion. Parker suggests in this recording that one of the reasons for long trials is the amount of translation and interpretation required. However, there are other factors that cause delays, including large numbers of witnesses - more than 3,500 witnesses have testified in ICTY trials.
  • The ICTY was set up by a resolution of the United Nations 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-).

Other details

  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 20 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
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  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
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  • Remarks: Copyright Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 2008
  • Name: Kevin Parker
  • Remarks: speaker
  • Content provider
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
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  • Sound
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  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.