Is Justice Justified?

Milica Jovanović

October 16th, 2023

As a society, we would all like to think we have progressed far from the issues of the past, as well as the mistakes of our ancestors in history; yet, war is still ongoing and crime is still happening everywhere, every day. So how can we ensure truly leaving barbaric methods to the dark ages and fascistic regimes to the 20th century?

We often find ourselves in the position of choosing the lesser of two evils. In an ideal world, everything would be black and white, inhumane acts would not be up for discussion, and we would not have such a hard time getting to the core of the truth. It is human to err. It is the most widespread and prominent anthropological characteristic. But if it’s so human, how can we justify punishing people for, being exactly that – people? Well, otherwise we would have a form of anarchy, and as adventurous as it looks in the movies, I am sure it is not much fun in reality.

The ICC is a major step toward delivering justice. Its goal is, ideally, to punish the guilty and bring peace and closure to those affected. But it has problems which make us question its credibility, and even its value. We have had the chance to witness three different trials today, and each one raises some important questions regarding the true values we claim to strive for.

Was Flick really, a humanitarian? 

Was Erdemović left with no other choice, but to kill?

Was Bikindi just an artist expressing his opinions?

Influence is power, and time is money. People with both can convince themselves that the world is simply theirs, there to entertain them and theirs to use how they see fit.  Flick was maybe “just a businessman doing his job”, but at what cost? Victims of his wrongdoings were numerous, solely because they found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. And why should their lives be reduced to statistics; why should we derogate the damages by claiming they could have had it worse?

Is remorse enough to gain forgiveness? Taking everything into consideration, it is still unclear to me if Erdemović can be perceived as a criminal, rather than a man doing what, in the moment, seemed inevitable in the situation he was in. But even then, he did pull the trigger, and he knew what pulling the trigger meant. No matter how unwillingly, irreversible acts had taken place.

Can we separate the art from the artist, if it’s filled with his personal beliefs? Even through veneers of metaphors, true intent can be seen. Bikindi may have not had the intent of propagating genocide, but he for sure didn’t condemn it either. With his government position, as well as his reputation, he was bound to be taken seriously by the those who shared his perspective. 

So can the ICC decide fairly, if we find ourselves in such grey areas?

Of course. After all, that is what it’s there for. If we believe that the judges will not let prejudice, Eurocentrism, biases, or racism get in their way, I’m frankly quite sure that they will be able to provide all of us with what are all hoping for – justice.