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Enlightening visit to the Hague for law and criminology students

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Between 11 and 13 November 2018, Philip Ells, the Head of the School of Law and Criminology, accompanied eight law and criminology students to a three day visit to Holland.

After an early flight on Sunday, students arrived in Amsterdam and were treated to a fascinating boat ride through the concentric canals of the city.

On the Monday, students visited the International Court of Justice, or the Peace Palace, in The Hague. A donation now estimated to be worth 300 million euros by Andrew Carnegie ensured the building of an impressive palace in just six years opening in 1913. The palace houses both the ICJ and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Students were given a tour of and introduction to the courtroom at which state actors’ cases were heard.

On Tuesday, the students visited the home of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone. This court was established by an agreement between the United Nations and the Government of Sierra Leone to oversee the continuing legal obligations of the Special Court for Sierra Leone after its closure in 2013. These include witness protection, supervision of prison sentences, and management of the SCSL archives. The Special Court was the first international court to be funded by voluntary contributions and, in 2013, became the first court to complete its mandate and transition to a residual mechanism.

School o Law and Criminology students at the Residual special court for Sierra Leone

The Registrar of the former Special Court for Sierra Leone and current Residual Special Court, together with a Prosecution Legal Adviser/Evidence Officer, provided a highly informative talk and lengthy question and answer session about the work of the former court personnel within Sierra Leone, the gathering of evidence, prosecution, and community engagement when a limited number of key actors only faced trial.

Students were then provided with a series of films and a talk from personnel from the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. The Mechanism was created by the UN Security Council in 2010 to perform the remaining functions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The courtroom was viewed and its procedure explained.

The final visit in the afternoon was to the International Criminal Court where students observed part of the long running trial of the former President of the Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo and Blé Goude.

Philip Ells said:

This was a unique opportunity for students to learn from court staff and prosecutors, the work of these highly specialised, international courts. It enabled students to put their own studies in perspective, and to be informed of the possibilities of international work in the future, and of internships offered by the ICC.

Ambra Mehori, a first year criminology student commented:

This was very well organised, educational, and enjoyable. I learnt an enormous amount, and made new friends from other courses. It has made me rethink what we are studying and what I might do in the future.

Learn more about the courses we offer at the School of Law and Criminology.