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Senior Researchers

Barbora Hola

Barbora Hola works as Assistant Professor at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, VU University Amsterdam. She is a fellow at the Center for International Criminal Justice and a member of the steering committee of the Africa-Low Countries Network. In 2006 Barbora received her Law degree (summa cum laude) at the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague. In 2007 she received LL.M in International and European Law at the University of Amsterdam. In 2012 Barbora obtained her PhD in supranational criminology from the VU University Amsterdam. In the past, Barbora worked as a legal counsel at the Public International Law and Policy Group and as a legal assistant at the ADC-ICTY. In 2014 Barbora was a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Law & Society at UC Berkeley, University of California. In her research Barbora focuses on issues of transitional justice, in particular (international) criminal trials, sentencing of international crimes and enforcement of international sentences. In 2013, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research awarded Barbora the prestigious VENI grant for a project on vertical (in)consistency of international sentencing. Barbora has published extensively and presented at international conferences on topics of sentencing of international crimes, enforcement of international sentences and life after trial at international criminal tribunals.

Joris van Wijk

joris wijkJoris van Wijk works as Associate professor at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology, VU University Amsterdam. He is executive director of the Center for International Criminal Justice and director of the Master Programme International Crimes and Criminology. Joris is one of the conveners of the Atrocity Crimes Research Group at the European Society of Criminology and a member of the Dutch Society of Criminology. In 2013 Joris was a visiting scholar at the Criminology department of Oslo University. In 2011, he was a visiting scholar at the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor. In 2008, he was the recipient of the ESC Young Criminologist Award. Joris’ research interests lie on the crossroads of international criminal justice, criminology and (im)migration. Next to the WJID project he also supervises the Escaping Justice Project which studies how countries deal with alleged perpetrators of international crimes applying for asylum. Joris received his Law and Criminology degree at the Faculty of Law, VU University Amsterdam. In 2007 he obtained his PhD at this same university, defending the study ‘Luanda-Holanda; irregular (asylum) migration from Angola to the Netherlands’.


Junior Researchers


Sofia Caviezel

Lucia Slot

Maria Torrisi



Jessica Kelder

Gabriele Chlevickaite

Oriana Fedeli

Benjamin Goffrier

Kaweh Kerami

Miriam Kuster

Shoshana Levy

Katie Smith

Ena Dogovic



Francesca Bufano

Patricia Dore Castillo

Josanne Mirolo

Jessica Kelder

Noortje Klomp

Maaike Zeeuw


Research Project

The “When Justice Is Done” project is a university based research project conducted under the auspices of the Center for International Criminal Justice at the VU University Amsterdam. It is run by two senior researchers, Joris van Wijk and Barbora Hola. Each year, a number of students from the selective Master programme International Crimes and Criminology are selected to assist as Junior Researchers.

The project “When Justice Is Done” (WJID) aims to empirically analyze what happens to persons who have been acquitted or convicted by international criminal courts and tribunals. It aims to spark more interest on this so far neglected aspect of international criminal justice and explores opportunities to improve currently applied policies.

1 Int Criminal Tribunals 4Perpetrators of international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are often denoted as “hostis humanis generis” – enemies of all mankind. Over the past decades, international(ized) criminal tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) or the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) together tried over 150 perpetrators of international crimes. Over 120 individuals have been convicted while 30 have been acquitted.

The WJID project aims to analyze to what extent the empirical reality of post-trial life reflects on the legitimacy and effectiveness of these international courts. Therefore, four sets of research questions will be answered:

• What are the goals of (i) international criminal tribunals and (ii) international punishment?

• Under what prison conditions do international prisoners serve their sentences?

• What happens to the convicted and acquitted by international tribunals after their release/acquittal?

• How could international sentence enforcement and post-release system be improved to better promote the goals?

Convicted Individuals

As of July 2013, the ICTY, ICTR and the SCSL have together convicted and sentenced 121 persons (69 at the ICTY, 44 at the ICTR and 8 at the SCSL) for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The sentences delivered by the tribunals differ very much. The ICTR and SCSL in general handed out more severe sentences compared to the ICTY. This is clear looking not only at the more frequent imposition of life sentence at the ICTR (14 life sentences (31,8%) compared to two life sentences at the ICTY (2,9%)) but also at lengthier determinate sentences at the ICTR and SCSL. The average determinate sentence at the ICTY is 14,84 years, while at the ICTR and SCSL it is 21,9 years and 37 years respectively.

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The majority of individuals convicted by the tribunals serves imprisonment in many countries around Europe or Africa designated by the tribunals to enforce their sentences. Since there is no international prison, the tribunals “outsourced” imprisonment to the countries willing to help them out. It is largely unknown under what conditions these ‘international prisoners’ are incarcerated.

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International judges are often criticized for leniency of their sentences especially in light of the gravity of crimes tried before them. It is thus remarkable that the vast majority of convicts have not served their full sentences. As of July 2013, 55 persons (45% of the persons convicted by the Tribunals) have already been released. Of these, 46 individuals (84% of the released) have been granted an early release generally after having served 2/3 of their imprisonment term. The only nine individuals who have served the totality of their sentence are usually defendants convicted for relatively low sentences. Given the fact that international trials are pretty lengthy, they actually served their whole sentence during trial.


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Therefore, many convicts have already returned back to their countries of origins or sought refuge elsewhere. After their release, ex-international prisoners are off the radar of the international community and nobody really knows how they reintegrate back to (their) societies or what their post-release life looks like. No supervision and no assistance is offered to them despite the fact that many of them had been “out of touch with reality” for more than a decade during their detention and incarceration at the tribunals. To find out more, click here..

Acquitted Individuals

The acquitted persons are theoretically free to return back to their countries of origin. That is generally the case at the ICTY where many of them are welcomed as war heroes upon their return. However, the picture is diametrically different for the ones acquitted by the ICTR. Since they fear persecution, further prosecution or discrimination upon their return in Rwanda and in many cases no other country is willing to welcome them, some end up “stuck” in Arusha in a limbo situation. They are “acquitted but not free”. To find out more, click here..

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