’Aim to catch bigger fish under international criminal law’

Although all eyes are on the International Criminal Court for prosecuting such international crimes as war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide - a recent and notable case in point being the warrant issued for Russian president Putin’s arrest - the future of international criminal law lies in national law. This is what Professor of Criminal Law and Procedure Elies van Sliedregt will argue in her inaugural address on Friday, March 31. She advocates a more proactive prosecution policy in collaboration with EU Member States to catch bigger fish.

Most perpetrators of international crimes are prosecuted and tried before national courts. But to what degree are national legal regimes equipped to deal with such crimes and their perpetrators? How much room is there for couleur locale in setting out prosecution policy, and do international punishment objectives guide sentencing?

These issues go to the essence of international criminal law (ICL). Ever since its inception, the sui generis character of ICL, which some claim deviates from regular, national criminal law, has been a subject of debate - not only because of its international origins and political context, but also and especially because of the nature of the offences concerned: seriously reprehensible crimes that arouse deep moral indignation.

In her address, van Sliedregt explores the sui generis premise and how it impacts on criminal prosecution in the Netherlands. She looks at the current practice of criminal prosecution of international crimes: how it mostly targets non-Dutch national who arrive in the Netherlands as refugees but since some years now also so-called foreign fighters (Dutch ISIS sympathizers). Discussing the immigration law component of prosecution policy, she advocates a policy that is more proactive, aims to catch bigger fish, and is well coordinated in collaboration with other EU Member States.

Inaugural address

Professor Elies van Sliedregt will deliver her inaugural address in the Tilburg University Auditorium on Friday, March 31, 2023 at 16:15 hrs. The title of her address is Uitzonderlijk strafrecht (exceptional criminal law) and the address will be livestreamed.

Professor Elies van Sliedregt has been Professor of Criminal Law and Procedure at Tilburg Law School since November 2021. She studied Italian and Law at Utrecht University. In 2003, she obtained a doctorate in criminal law at Tilburg University and since worked as a researcher and lecturer at Utrecht University and Leiden University, and at VU Amsterdam, where she also served as Dean of its School of Law and as its Vice-Rector. In addition, from 2006 to 2010, she was a deputy judge at the Amsterdam District Court. In 2016, she was appointed Professor of International and Comparative Criminal Law at the School of Law of Leeds University (UK), where she was also Director of the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies (CCJS). She has held guest research positions at academic institutions and universities in the Netherlands (NIAS), Italy, the UK, Canada, and Australia, and she was recently appointed to the Supervisory Board of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL) in London.

Van Sliedregt is the recipient of several awards and prestigious research grants, including the 2006 Modderman Award and the 2008 J.C. Ruigrok Award for her PhD thesis, an NWO Veni grant, an NWO Vidi grant, and in 2022 an ERC Advanced Grant for the project Building a Global Criminal Justice System at the Domestic Level. From 2008 to 2013, she was a member of the KNAW Young Academy. To date, nine of her PhD students have obtained their doctorates and she is currently supervising six more.