Born: 1934, Lubochna, Czechoslovakia
Discusses whether it is ever too late to seek justice [Interview: 2005]
I think in the abstract for example if you look at the Milosevic trial and say "This has gone on for years. Does this serve any purpose?" I suppose in the abstract the answer is that it should be avoided. On the other hand, when you then look at what happened in the Milosevic situation, this is really the first time we have a former head of state before an international tribunal. And we have to learn from it. And we couldn't have anticipated all the problems that have been created in this case. Obviously, it's not a good idea that a trial should take that long, that the defendant should be allowed to really play all the games that are being played. At the same time, to try to hurry it at this point, that would be a big mistake. But we can learn from it and I think in the future we have to come up with ideas and methods to prevent these lengthy delays and to prevent a defendant to just do what Milosevic has been doing, without at the same time denying him his due process rights. There is a balance there, but the delay here is too long. And it looks as if justice delayed is justice denied. The reality of course just having him in the dock for all these years is already justice. So I am not sure that this example is an example of justice denied, in the eyes of the victims. I think the victims would like to see him convicted but they do get great satisfaction I am sure from just seeing him there.
Now an international judge, Thomas Buergenthal was one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 17. He has served as judge and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and as a member of the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador. Buergenthal was chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Committee on Conscience. Buergenthal became a member of the International Court of Justice in March 2000, a seat he still occupies.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum