Reviewing the atrocities of a massacre of 440 Albanians killed in Kosovo in 1999, including autopsy and post-mortem reports and photos, might haunt the dreams of many a man. Prosecutor Charles Hardaway ’86 has a totally different reaction.
“It makes me angry that people were not allowed to live their lives to whatever potential they desired and were killed for being born differently due to their ethnicity,” he says. “It is what drives me to do the best job I can to make sure the victims’ families have their day in court, and that those who are responsible are brought before the law.”
Hardaway is with the War Crimes Unit for the Republic of Kosovo’s Office of the Special Prosecutor. He is employed by the U.S. State Department through a contracting firm and will serve in the position until next December. As the prosecutor on the case, Hardaway has total responsibility for the investigation of the case, including directing investigators, filing motions, preparing and filing the indictment, and presenting the case in court.
Other major cases he is prosecuting include the 1999 murder of Albanian prisoners by prison officials and Serbian prisoners, and the Staro Gracko Massacre in which 14 Serbian farmers working in the fields were killed by Albanian paramilitaries and members of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Hardaway knew early in life that he wanted to be a lawyer. “As a prosecutor, I feel that I can do the most good for the most people,” he says. Hardaway believes his skills, values and mindset were formed during his years at Gilmour. “I am a firm believer of whom much is given, much is required,” Hardaway says. “That, along with my desire for social justice, was formulated by Father John (Blazek ’58, C.S.C.).”
Before he went to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Sierra Leone, Hardaway read up on their history, current political situations, and the players involved. “That has served me well,” he says. “Rather than going in cold, I went in with an understanding. That intellectual curiosity was developed at Gilmour.” He credits his former teachers Frank McCamley and Kathy Kenny for his reading and writing skills and Gay Janis for his ability to argue cases and debate effectively. The prosecutor also applies many things he learned in Mrs. Emerson’s government class. “Mrs. Emerson made us go beyond the words on the page and go behind the curtain to see how things actually operate,” he says.
After graduating from Gilmour, Hardaway earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a law degree from The Ohio State University. He’s primarily been doing international work since 2001, when he started off by working on a project focusing on environmental legislation in Zambia.
Hardaway also served as part of an evaluation team for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes in southern and eastern Africa and provided legal training for trial attorneys in south Sudan. From 2006-08, Hardaway served as a prosecutor for the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, where he worked on two cases that would come to be very significant in the field of international humanitarian law.
The first case, which he says was the most satisfying outcome of his career, dealt with the brutality of recruiting child soldiers who, as part of the recruitment process, would be forced to kill their parents and sexually assault other family members.
“We were able to secure the first-ever conviction in international law for the use of child soldiers,” he says. In the second case, Hardaway was part of the trial team that introduced the concept of “forced marriage” as a violation of international humanitarian law and was able to secure a conviction on that charge. “I was very proud of not just being able to set international legal precedent twice but to also contribute to the expansion of legal protections for women and children,” he says.
While working overseas, Hardaway takes advantage of his love for travel, visiting countries throughout Europe, Asia and Africa.
“To see the United States from an outside perspective is fascinating,” he says, adding it’s reaffirmed his belief in his country. “For all of its faults,” he says, “America is still the ‘shining city on the hill.’”