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  • Juan Ignacio

A trial at the International Criminal Court

Universtity isn't only about classes, it offers you a lot of opportunities, and travelling is one of them.

The International Criminal Court (ICC)

Travelling isn’t always planned, particularly these last few days when winter arrived all of a sudden in the middle of November. Seriously, I have lived in Estonia, where temperatures reach -30º C, and I don’t remember it being this cold.

However, one of the teachers of the Master’s in International Technology Law suggested a trip to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to watch a trial, and you can’t say no to an opportunity like that. The Hague for a lawyer is like a sacred place that you should visit at least once in your life (preferably as a guest).

The Court

The Court is located in a modern building, barely a couple of years old. Its structure is intriguing, but, as you may imagine, these things are never just because: the window heights don’t match the floors inside to avoid any threat from snipers, for instance. Once you pass all the controls you find yourself in a reception area where the staff is very friendly and eager to help you with any query you may have.

There is a museum inside the building, where you can see the aims of the Court displayed and how it has helped people denounce some of the most horrendous crimes committed by human beings. Professionals from different countries from around the world work together to bring justice to them.

The trial

At the trial, I felt like I was in a theatre. After passing another control we were directed to a room with several lines of chairs at different levels that where facing a huge glass wall covered by a curtain. We sat down and put on the earphones that were provided to listen to what would happen on the other side of the glass. After a while the curtains opened to let us see the stage. All the actors were there, waiting for the judges, whom we had to receive standing up. And so began the show.

I must admit that I expected interesting discussions and tension, but reality was quite different. The lawyer for the defendant spoke slowly for an hour and a half, making references to points from previous sessions. After 45 minutes, some people started struggling to keep their eyes open, including the defendant. Once the lawyer finished, the judge decided to have a break, and I decided that was enough, I couldn't stand two more hours without travelling to dreamland.

The city

Although that was the end of my visit, I still had some time to see the International Court of Justice and the Binnenhof, and to take a walk through the city. It’s nice, a mixture of old and new buildings with some wonderful landscapes. I do want to see more of the city and its coast, but I guess I’ll leave it for the summer. A hot chocolate, please!

The Binnenhof


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