Hi There! I have so much to type about and not enough clarity in my mind to put it all down properly. This month I had the amazing opportunity to travel to The Netherlands with my University to visit The Hague which is more or less the legal capital of the world. I was set and prepared to spend 4 days abroad soaking up new experiences, seeing the sights, and learning about what it takes to keep the world's balance of law and order (cue the gongs).
We set out from London Heathrow on a cloudy Sunday Morning, kick starting what would shape up to be an awesome trip. Our plane landed at Schipol International Airport in Amsterdam shortly after 12 in the afternoon and we hopped onto our bus taking another 45 minute journey to the city of Den Haag (The Hague). We pulled up in front of a 'whapstatious' building which was our hotel, The Novotel World Forum which boasted 4 star ratings.
We had to share bedrooms and I was rooming with my fellow year 1 classmate Ana who i hadn't really spoken to so much before the trip. It allowed us the opportunity to get to know each other and befriend each other which was really nice considering the class is so large that you hardly ever get to mingle with people out side of your net of friends.
On the first night, we set out to explore Den Haag Centrum. A group of us got together and got an Uber into the town centre. We checked out the haunts and wandered around until we ended up in Chinatown and managed to make a few friends amongst the locals who gave us a moonlit tour of the area. We also had to tread carefully because bicycles, people, cars, and trams all used to same stretch of road, so walking was a matter of life or death.
Fast forward to Monday and we were allotted a free day to head out and explore. Our giant group of 20 split up into several smaller groups to go sight seeing. My band of 5 made our way to Amsterdam city to walk about and go souvenir shopping. We aimed to peep at 'coffee shops' , view the canals, and head to Den Wallen ( Red Light District ). We only achieved our objectives which made my day trip to Amsterdam sensational
On Day 3 of the Trip our group had 2 objectives; Go to the Beach and Attend a hearing at the International Criminal Court. We set off from out hotel at 10 in the morning and made our way via tram to the Scheveningen Pier. The air was cold, but the sky was blue and welcoming. It was also my first time going to a beach where the water was 'unswimable'. Despite that, the scenery was certainly breathtaking and the sun shining on my face made me feel a lot better. I spent a lot of my time on the sand bank walking about and on the pier look out getting dynamic views of Scheveningen beach.
In the afternoon after a successful trip to the water front, we headed to the International Criminal Court via the Bus. We were set to sit in the Public Gallery during a hearing. While at the Court, We got a tour of the facilities (I wasn't allowed to take photos inside) and listened to a Defense Barrister cross examine a Witness which proved to be really intense stuff. The trial i got to listen in on was that of Former Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) President Laurent Gbagbo and the Former Minister of Youth Charles Blé Goudé.
The Former President was being accused of having engaged his individual criminal responsibility for four counts of crimes against humanity, in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, jointly with members of his inner circle and through members of the pro-Gbagbo forces, for ordering soliciting and inducing the commission of these crimes or, in the alternative, contributing in any other way to the commission of these crimes:
- other inhumane acts or – in the alternative – attempted murder,
- and persecution
According to the little debrief on the ICC Website the crimes were allegedly committed between 16 and 19 December 2010 during and after a pro-Ouattara march on the RTI headquarters, on 3 March 2011 at a women's demonstration in Abobo, on 17 March 2011 by shelling a densely populated area in Abobo, and on or around 12 April 2011 in Yopougon.
The case has been going on for a little over a year. We were able to meet with 2 of the 3 judges sitting on the case one of which, Judge Henderson, was Trinidadian. We also got to ask them questions about the case and have a chat with several defence barristers and other members of the defence team. One of the defence Barristers on the case was actually a lecturer at my University which was quite amazing.
On our final day, we took a visit to the Peace Palace to look around and peek at the Capital of the Legal World. The Peace Palace houses the Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice as well as the World's Largest Law Library. The Peace Palace also doubles as the Hague Academy of International and Human Rights Law in the summer time and draws hundreds of Academics to listen to lectures by renowned professors.
All in all i had a really great time and I was so glad that I was able to go and be a part of that experience. I took away so many things and I was able to meet other students at higher levels of the degree and get advice from them on how to get on with my studies. It was also such a good way to bond with new people and explore more of the world.