Deadline Now: Brenda J. Hollis

Deadline Now: Brenda J. Hollis

Friday, May 16, 2014 at 8:30 p.m.

Ohio native Brenda Hollis has played a pivotal role in the criminal prosecutions of Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic and Liberian president Charles Taylor. She is the Prosecutor for the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone. A Colonel in the U.S. Air Force (Ret.), Ms. Hollis shares her unique experiences in international law, and her remarkable life and career.

Here are Jack Lessenberry's Final Thoughts for this edition of "Deadline Now:"

When I was young I was fascinated by the Nuremberg trials after World War Two. That, you may remember, was where the nations that won the war put the top Nazi leaders on trial.

There has, most of us know, probably never been a more terrible regime. The Nazis attempted to aggressively conquer much of the world and either exterminate its non-German populations or reduce them to the status of slaves. They were easy to hate.

The Soviets wanted to just shoot all the top Nazis. But the United States and Great Britain insisted on a fair trial.

But when the trial began, some of the prisoners said the trial couldn’t possibly be fair. Hermann Goering, for many years Hitler’s chief lieutenant, said that in such situations the victors would always judge the vanquished, period.

Yet thanks in large part to the chief American prosecutor. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the trials were real trials. While many of the accused, including Goering, were sentenced to death, some got fairly light sentences. Three were acquitted of all charges against them. And as horrific as the Nazi crimes were, there was no pretense that we were morally and ethically perfect.

When he summed up his case before the court after months of testimony, Justice Jackson said of those in the dock something like this: "If they are not guilty, who is?  But if they are guilty, then who is not?”  In other words, we are all citizens of the world, and we allowed this to happen. Neither Colonel Harris nor I were alive during the Nazi era. But in our own time, dreadful crimes against humanity have continued. And if history tells us anything, it is that civilization requires justice, and justice is impossible without the rule of law.

Brenda Hollis has spent much her lifetime fighting for justice across the world, and to bring war criminals to justice.

If there is any higher calling, I am not aware of it.

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