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U.S. Government Support for Prosecution

Of the punitive options available, the USG supported prosecution, again for a combination of reasons. For one, the USG’s repetitive invocation of “Nuremberg” suggests that the USG believed that prosecution was the most appropriate way of addressing alleged perpetrators of Balkan atrocities. Moreover, the USG, as a signatory to the Genocide Convention, was legally obligated to prosecute at least those individuals suspected of perpetrating genocide.

Second, the USG sought to deter regional atrocities. In response to a possible question about whether investigating and prosecuting war crimes was essential to deterring violence elsewhere in the Balkans, the USG’s talking point stated belief “that the principle of deterrence is very important. It should be brought into operation in this tragic situation.”131 The USG reiterated this argument in other documents concerning an ICT for the FRY,132 and Walker recalls this rationale in retrospect.133 So, too, does Scheffer.134

The USG also sought to delegitimize suspects through their indictment for atrocities. The USG argued that merely issuing warrants for particular suspects could dramatically undermine their authority, regardless of whether they were ever apprehended. As the USG stated, “the international community will not accept as legitimate leaders of the [FRY] any persons sought by the [ICTY].”135 Shattuck agrees, recalling that he and his colleagues favored prosecution in order to turn “indicted war criminals into international pariahs.”136

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