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‘Round Peg, Square Hole?’ The Viability of Plea Bargaining in Domestic Criminal Justice Systems Prosecuting International Crimes

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During peacetime, no nation envisions that its people could ever succumb to genocide. Therefore, when a justice system never anticipated the challenge of prosecuting all perpetrators of genocide, the judicial institutions struggle of fitting the ‘round peg’ of these countless heinous crimes into the ‘square hole’ of an unprepared criminal justice system. Thus, this article turns to the extensive use of plea bargaining as a potential solution to this problem, using the courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as an example of a nascent criminal justice system developing in the wake of mass atrocity. Since plea bargaining has the potential to offer victims greater retribution and reconciliation if they see their perpetrators processed through the criminal justice system in some capacity rather than not at all, I propose that if administered cautiously and within an informed community, increasing plea bargaining in BiH could contribute positively to rebuilding the community.

Affiliations: 1: Boston College Law School, Boston, MA, USA


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