Mar. 21, 2019 -- The special adviser to the UN secretary-general on the prevention of genocide, Adama Dieng, welcomed Wednesday's appeal judgment on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic -- from 40 years in prison to life imprisonment.
This appeal judgment by The Hague branch of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals confirms that accountability rather than impunity will prevail, said Dieng in a statement.
However, he said that justice alone will not bring genuine reconciliation to communities divided by violence, and it cannot be imposed from the outside.
"Real change in society can only come from self-reflection, acceptance, consistent and collective effort to move forward. It takes hard work and perseverance. It also takes sustained commitment to reconciliation, trust-building and constructive and meaningful dialogue by political and social leaders and citizens."
He urged leaders in the region to combat and counter negative and divisive rhetoric with words of compassion and empathy toward the pain and suffering of victims, not only of their own ethnic or religious community, but especially members of other ethnic or religious communities.
Today, denial and revisionism are feeding regional instability and undermining neighborly relations, he said. "Some leaders and governing institutions in the region have not yet shown that they have the courage to support accountability for the crimes committed in the past nor to acknowledge those wrongdoings. More needs to be done to strengthen genuine reconciliation, trust-building and to promote constructive dialogue."
Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment in March 2016 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. Both the prosecution and the defense had appealed the 2016 verdict. Karadzic asked for an acquittal while the prosecution demanded harsher punishment.
The appeal case was handled by the residual mechanism after the ICTY closed its doors at the end of 2017.