It fell to the controversial figure of Carla del Ponte, prosecutor at the UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague, to lament the slow progress of justice in the Former Yugoslavia in a lecture she delivered last week. del Ponte picked out Serbia as a country “removed from the European values”, arguing that truth and justice remain “relative concepts, rather than absolute values”.
In the wake of these comments, the time seems ripe to consider how video fits in to the quest for post-conflict justice. How does the use of video relate to such concepts as truth, reconciliation and accountability? It’s an especially interesting question in a region like the Former Yugoslavia, where the population remains so starkly divided in its interpretations of the recent past.
As the Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) noted, video of historical atrocities is being used as part of the continuing propaganda war in the Former Yugoslavia, and few debates around video footage in 2006 have been as highly-charged as the one that accompanied this video clip, first broadcast by Serbia’s B92 television station in August 2006.
Warning: the following video contains graphic imagery of human rights abuse
The video depicts events that took place during so-called “Operation Storm” in August 1995. It came to light almost exactly eleven years later – the most recent example of video footage apparently released to coincide with the anniversaries of major atrocities committed by different sides in the Balkan wars.