Future war crimes and prosecution

Gathering digital evidence

Authored by: Maziar Homayounnejad , Richard E. Overill , James Gow

Routledge Handbook of War, Law and Technology

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  May  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138084551
eBook ISBN: 9781315111759
Adobe ISBN:


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The advent of new technologies brought with it the likelihood of new war crimes challenges. The challenges had already been considerable in the quarter of a century of international criminal tribunals and courts that began with the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was authorised by the UN Security Council in 1993 and began to operate in 1994. 1 The Yugoslavia tribunal had started from scratch, with all aspects of criminal prosecution at the international level to be established. Investigations into atrocity and gross misconduct in the context of armed conflict faced immense challenges – and benefited at times from the advent of new technologies, including DNA identification. The hard work that went into identifying evidence in the human sphere, with painstaking exhumations and analysis of remains was still a largely analogue experience. The new challenges would make new demands, in terms of evidence and linking to elements of crimes to pass the tests of criminal proceedings. Even though much from the past has not yet been adequately addressed, in terms of war crimes, the speed with which new technologies began to have an impact made it imperative to consider ‘the future’ in the present.

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