Home Law United States law and policy on transitional justice : principles, politics, and pragmatics
Implicit Unconditional Amnesty
The USG resisted sending troops into the Balkans to arrest suspected atrocity perpetrators, even after many of those suspects were indicted by the ICTY. In a policy described by Carl Bildt, the former prime minister of Sweden who served as the civilian representative under the Dayton peace accords on Bosnia, as “benign neglect,”110 the USG refused to command its forces to apprehend these individuals, despite having as many as 60,000 of its own and NATO troops already deployed in the Balkans.111 During this time, Karadzic, Milosevic, Mladic, and other suspected atrocity perpetrators remained in office or in hiding.112
USG officials insisted that prevailing orders required that if any of their troops “encounter people who they know to be indicted war criminals they are to detain them for transfer to civilian authority so they may be arrested and then turned over to The Hague for prosecution.”113 Some observers argued that this particular mandate prevented the USG and its allies from more aggressively pursuing indicted war criminals.114 Others note that the passive arrest policy was rooted in fear of provoking violence among the local population, especially toward American and other NATO peacekeepers themselves.115 Consequently, when NATO (including U.S. troops) did not confront an indicted war criminal, which was most of the time, those individuals remained free. Similarly, NATO left other indicted war criminals, such as Milosevic, who held high office, to carry out their business.
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