On 10 April 2015, PJI Director Matthew Gillett and PJI Member Nema Milaninia delivered the following presentation as guest speakers at the ASIL conference:
Seminar: American Society of International Law: New Voices
Title: Combating Impunity for Population Transfers: prosecuting forced displacement under International Criminal Law
Abstract: Since the end of the Second World War, an estimated 250 conflicts have taken place, resulting in large numbers of civilian casualties. In the vast majority of these conflicts, state and non-state actors, including paramilitary and terrorist groups, have sought to control strategic areas by forcibly displacing civilians who fall outside the groups’ ethnic, political or religious affiliation. Efforts to prosecute these crimes, particularly in relation to the former Yugoslavia, have produced a significant body of jurisprudence concerning the crimes of forcible transfer, deportation and persecution through forced displacement. In recent times, however, a worrying trend has appeared in the judgments of the international courts concerning these crimes. Confronted with evidence of large-scale displacement crimes, judges have looked less to whether displacement occurred and more to where the displaced were sent. The authors of the paper explained how this creates a potential impunity gap in the not-uncommon circumstances in which it is clear that victims were expelled from their homes but unclear where they ultimately ended up. The paper described the cases, including Djordjevic and more recently Tolimir, in which this problematic conceptualization of forcible transfer and deportation has appeared and explored further difficulties that arise from the lack of clarity on the nature and elements of these crimes.