Tjitske Lingsma is a senior freelance journalist based in The Netherlands specialising in matters of international justice. That’s why you can often find her in the public gallery of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This resulted in her book ‘All Rise! The high ambitions of the International Criminal Court and the harsh reality’ published in December 2014 – so far in Dutch only.

‘All Rise’ is nominated for the Brusseprize – for best journalistic book in The Netherlands. The winner will be made public on 4 June in Amsterdam.

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


All Rise – so far only available in Dutch

Hopes were still high when the ICC in The Hague in 2002 started its noble but difficult task: to go after the powerful who are responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – and to fight impunity. ‘All Rise’ offers a compelling first-hand account of the functioning of this prestigious court, to which 122 nations have signed up. The ICC is conducting full criminal investigations in eight African countries.

In a vivid journalistic style Tjitske describes the dramatic events unfolding. From the public gallery she follows the cases against suspects held responsible for international crimes in Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic and Libya. In thematic chapters she describes the history of the court, the relationship with the host state The Netherlands, how criminal investigations are being conducted, the position of witnesses and victims and life in detention. She sees how the ICC is struggling with lying witnesses, strategic blunders by the prosecutor,obstructive governments, intimidation and bribing of witnesses, failed cases, dwindling support and ex-militiamen who applied for asylum in The Netherlands. So far the court has cost 1,25 billion euro (the combined budgets from 2002-2015). The concrete result: two convictions. New policies and strategies have been announced by the prosecutor, but it is too early to tell whether these changes will result in a better performance. The ICC has planned to start four new trials in 2015.

‘All Rise’ is the story of a court that offered hope and promised justice to victims, but so far could not live up to its expectations.


Tjitske 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.

Her output includes written articles, research, radio stories, commentaries, speeches and lectures.

She is a regular contributor to the International Justice Tribune. Currently the IJT is publishing a series on the challenges the prosecutor of the ICC is facing with evidence.

1. ICC’s trouble with witnesses

2. The OTP and intermediaries – a controversial relationship

3. The International Criminal Court’s quest for scientific evidence

Other articles:

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


She is an award winning author. Her 2008 book: ‘The Sorrow of Ambon. A history of the Moluccas’ (published 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.’


Tjitske 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