01 November 2012

Seeing alleged international criminals judged fairly and expeditiously in their own countries is the ultimate goal of Queensland Rhodes Scholar elect, QUT law graduate Andrew Trotter.

Mr Trotter, one of the university's inaugural Vice-Chancellor's scholars, graduated with distinction in a Bachelor of Arts and first-class honours in a Bachelor of Laws degree at QUT last year and already has some international war crime trial experience under his belt.

He has undertaken three semesters abroad and completed internships at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, where he worked for judges in the Mladić trial, at the Office of the Co-Prosecutors in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (the Khmer Rouge trials) and at the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre in India.

His interest in international criminal law was sparked last year when he took part in an International Criminal Court moot in The Hague while on an exchange program in Taiwan.

"We worked hard and made it through the essay round as one of two Australian teams chosen to travel to The Hague for the international competition," he said.

"A team mate and I then left for Taiwan and we practised by video link with the other members of the team and judges in Australia."

Mr Trotter, who grew up at Sunnybank in Brisbane, walked away with the award for Best Trial Lawyer.

Under his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University he will study theories of criminal law, in particular as they relate to prosecutions for international crimes. It is an area of law that, having laid largely dormant after the post-WWII Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, he considers has made a lot of progress since the advent of the ad hoc tribunals in the early 1990s, and especially with the 2002 establishment of the International Criminal Court.

"It is an exciting and important area of the law," he said.

"Those countries that have been affected by crimes perpetrated during conflict need an appropriate level of international support to run trials so they can administer justice according to law," he said.

"It is beneficial where possible to have these trials conducted in the affected country but the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes if the home state is unable or unwilling to do so.

"But a home-state trial better enables national restoration.

"This was really brought home to me in Cambodia where the public flooded into the courts. They wanted to be witness to the legal process. Justice must not only be done, but seen to be done.

"The people working on the Khmer Rouge trial and at the ICTY were of great integrity and commitment and I learnt much from their expertise."

Mr Trotter, who is currently working as an Associate to the Hon Justice Atkinson at the Supreme Court in Brisbane, will take up his three-year scholarship at Oxford after completing a further Associateship with the Hon Robert French AC, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia.

"I'm really looking forward to the intellectual challenge," he said. "To have my ideas and assumptions constantly questioned and interact with other Rhodes Scholars from around the world is an exciting prospect."

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake congratulated Mr Trotter and said his selection was a tremendous achievement.

Professor Coaldrake said Mr Trotter was the sixth QUT graduate to receive a Rhodes Scholarship.

"In addition, this is the third year running a QUT graduate has been invited into the select Rhodes Scholar club, to undertake further studies at the University of Oxford."

Queensland Governor Dr Penelope Wensley announced Mr Trotter's Rhodes Scholarship at Government House this week.

Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media team leader, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901

Queensland Rhodes Scholar elect, QUT law graduate Andrew Trotter already has some international war crime trial experience under his belt.