Tjitske Lingsma is a senior freelance journalist and award winning author based in The Netherlands specialising in matters of international justice. She brings years of experience, including overseas assignments. From 1999, she was based in East Timor to cover the struggle for independence. She also spent several years travelling to the Indonesian Moluccan islands to research the sectarian violence there.

On 6 September 2017 the international edition & update of her book ‘All Rise! The high ambitions of the International Criminal Court and the harsh reality’ was published (for ordering, check ‘Contact’).

ALLRISE cover_spread_ebook_front

A preview was published by ZAM: https://www.zammagazine.com/chronicle/chronicle-32/545-all-rise

It tells about the first time I went to a hearing at the ICC in The Hague, The Netherlands, where I heard the heart-breaking testimony of a lady who told the court how she was savagely gang raped, experienced the looting of her house and neighbourhood and heard how her brother was killed. After those gripping moments I decided to follow the ICC, inspired by the court’s noble task to bring justice for victims, to fight impunity and to go after perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In All Rise I tell the story of this court, that started in 2002 and now has 124 member states. In thematic chapters I explain its history, functioning, the work of the prosecutor, life in detention, and the precarious situation of witnesses and victims. In separate chapters the dramatic cases against suspects of international crimes in Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast and Libya are presented.

Excerpt from All Rise - ‘Slowly the luxaflex curtain, blocking the view on the courtroom, goes up. Like a magnet, Lubanga attracts all attention. The warlord, sitting in the dock, shines like a diamond. Proudly he wears an impressive white African robe that falls loosely on his body. From top to toe, Lubanga has dressed himself especially for this day. On his head he has a white fez. In his dazzling outfit Lubanga distinguishes himself from the dark robes around him. The symbolism can’t be missed. A white dove amidst the crows. Seemingly relaxed, Lubanga folds his hands under his chin while the
magistrates have taken their seats.’ 

The Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, charged with war crimes for recruiting child soldiers, will be found guilty that day, 12 March 2012. But overall the ICC’s results are disappointing. By now the court has convicted a total of four persons for international crimes, while cases against no fewer than nine suspects failed. (Also five persons have been found guilty of witness intimidation.) The court, which has cost 1.5 billion euros by now, is damaged by government obstruction, intimidation of witnesses, its own failures and member states threatening to withdraw.

However, as a relative young institution, the ICC should be given the benefit of the doubt. With its important task to bring justice, it is actually too valuable to fail.


All Rise was first published in Dutch, in December 2014. It was shortlisted for the Brusseprize – for best journalistic book in The Netherlands. The jury: ‘With admirable patience and dedication Tjitske Lingsma started a journalistic quest, resulting in a thorough, all-around and most of all sobering portrait (…). Lingsma doesn’t hesitate to draw harsh conclusions, but always leaves room for the possibility that things can take a turn for the better.’ 

Media reactions: 

‘Great reference book. My ICC bible’ – Elsbeth Gugger, SRF, Swiss Public Radio

 ‘A rousing book that sweeps you away’ & ‘Most gripping are the testimonies of victims’ – NRC Handelsblad, The Netherlands

 ‘Absolutely fantastic’ and ‘a must read’ – VRT, Belgium

You can listen to an interview Richard Walker of GCC Law&Media had with Tjitske Lingsma about the ICC, her experiences researching the court and her book: http://www.gcclaw.nl/



Her 2008 book ‘The Sorrow of Ambon. A history of the Moluccas’ (Balans, 2008, only in Dutch) won the prestigious Dick Scherpenzeelprijs. In awarding the prize, the jury said: ‘From the first page one knows: this is someone who can write. Seldom do we see such a fine example of meaningful travel journalism.’


Lingsma’s output includes written articles, research, radio stories, commentaries, speeches and lectures (De Groene Amsterdammer, International Justice Tribune, Wordt Vervolgd).

ICC’s trouble with witnesses

The OTP and intermediaries – a controversial relationship

The International Criminal Court’s quest for scientific evidence

Will the International Criminal Court care about Ongwen’s rotten childhood - International Justice Tribune 174

A banner year for victims’ reparations at the International Criminal Court – International Justice Tribune 173


Tjitske Lingsma also works as an event organiser. In 2001, she was the public information officer for the Constituent Assembly in East Timor. In 2012 she was the coordinator of the Conference on Narrative Journalism in Utrecht.




Foto: Katrien Mulder