Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

International Justice/ICTY: Nov-Dec ‘08

Project lands exclusive interview with outgoing president of tribunal.
By IWPR ICTY
Simon Jennings, an IWPR reporter in The Hague, secured in November an exclusive interview with Judge Fausto Pocar as he prepared to leave his post as president of the Hague tribunal after three years in the role.


The interview with Pocar mainly focused on the tribunal’s completion strategy and the court’s inability to meet the deadlines imposed by the UN Security Council.


Although the court is supposed to complete all its trials by the end of 2008 and all appeals by the end of 2010, several late arrests and other problems have meant that it is highly unlikely these deadlines will be met.


While the Security Council appears to have resisted calls to extend the court’s mandate, Pocar expressed his belief that the tribunal will get at least one or two additional years to complete its work.


In addition to appearing as a report on the IWPR website, the piece was broadcast on the radio programme Facing Justice, produced in collaboration with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, RFE-RL. This was later picked up by Serbian news agency SRNA and Bosnia’s largest daily Avaz.


In November, an event which sparked particular media interest was the initial appearance of French journalist Florence Hartmann before judges at the Hague tribunal.


Hartmann, who was the spokesperson for the tribunal’s former chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte until 2006, has been indicted for contempt of court. If found guilty, she could face a fine of up to 100,000 euro, or seven years in prison, or both.


A comment penned by programme manager Merdijana Sadovic – Is Hartmann’s Trial Necessary? – looked into claims made by some NGOs in the region that Hartmann was unjustly singled out for revealing confidential documents.


The piece was widely republished by international media, including Human Rights Tribune, International Security Network, ISN, and Courier International.


The same month, IWPR reporters also covered a hearing in which former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is indicted for genocide, testified as a defence witness in the case of his close associate, ex-president of the Bosnian Serb parliament Momcilo Krajisnik. After it featured on Facing Justice, the report was run on the most popular radio station in Croatia, Radio 101.


At the end of November, Jennings was invited by tribunal spokesperson Nerma Jelacic to address a group of Serbian journalists visiting The Hague to learn more about the court and the trials taking place there.


As an experienced journalist covering war crimes trials, Jennings was able to give them some useful tips on effective court reporting.


In December, the project built upon its already strong relations with partners in the region.


Talks were held with an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, representative from Serbia, at which the possibility for future collaborations with international organisations such as the OSCE, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights was discussed.


As a result of this meeting, the OSCE in Belgrade helped us establish links with Radio Sto Plus in Serbia, which will start broadcasting our radio programme Facing Justice soon.


Also in December, the project provided editorial training to a young Sarajevo-based journalist Velma Saric. She covered the proceedings against a Bosnian Serb indicted for genocide, Milorad Trbic, whose case was transferred from the tribunal to the Bosnian war crimes court in Sarajevo.


The end result was a compelling report, Court Hears of Srebrenica Victims’ Ongoing Trauma, on testimony which revealed the continuing sufferings of the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre.