Prosecuting Torturers, Protecting “Child Molesters”: Toward a Power Balance Model of Criminal Process for International Human Rights Law

In the age of terrorism, human rights law globally suffers substantial setbacks. However, at the regional level, human rights law is now more relevant than ever. More cases are decided each year by regional human rights tribunals, particularly in Europe. More importantly, human rights law affects more areas of domestic legal systems than ever before-from trademark law to limits on corporal punishment of children. This growing complexity presents two challenges: first, the challenge of comprehension (or the increasing need to make sense of the ever-expanding case law in many substantive areas) and second, the challenge of responsibility (or the fact that human rights tribunals can no longer be viewed as merely delivering justice in individual cases). This Article considers these challenges in two areas of human rights law seeing particularly fast growth: the rights of victims and accountability for gross human rights violations. Recent case law of two regional human rights courts has recognized a right of citizens to be protected from criminal attacks and, at least in certain cases, a right to have the perpetrators of such attacks criminally punished. This Article asks how these developments might influence domestic criminal justice systems’ jurisprudence and human rights law’s overall message.