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

IWPR Justice Reporting at Hague Peace Palace

Day-long event covers complexities of reporting international justice processes.

Students, journalists and academics took part in a day of workshops, films and debates in a September 5 event hosted by IWPR in The Hague.

The role of media in reporting conflict and justice was the theme of the conference, part of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Peace Palace, the building in The Hague which houses the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

As the ICC prepared to launch its Kenyan trials, Nzau Musau, a journalist from the country and an IWPR contributor, offered first-hand insights into the media coverage of the post-election violence of 200708 which the suspects are accused of orchestrating.

Veteran Dutch journalist Kees Schaepman and award-winning Lebanese blogger Imad Bazzi held a lively discussion on how reporters and concerned citizens can cover human rights abuses, emphasising the importance of citizen journalism in places where the conventional media are under state control.

Other events included a World Press Photo 2013 exhibition and a panel discussion on how the media report international justice processes, followed by a session on reporting transitional justice issues in Afghanistan hosted by IWPR editor Daniella Peled.

A three-hour master class on war crimes reporting, run by four IWPR editors and journalists, provided a comprehensive introduction to international justice processes and the importance of fair and accurate reporting. Journalism trainer Janet Anderson set out the complexities of the international court system, and IWPR’s senior reporter in The Hague, Rachel Irwin, gave a practical insight into the skills needed to report from a war crimes trial.

The day ended with a screening of the award-winning film “Give Up Tomorrow”, a documentary on a high-profile murder case in the Philippines.

“The conference and master class showed that there is real interest in our work,” said Marcel Smits, IWPR’s International Justice Programme Director. “We hope to repeat such interactions in The Hague, and plan to start an international summer course in justice reporting for students in the communication and journalism field.”

Danielle Cohen-Henriquez, a 23-year-old student of international law and philosophy at the University of Amsterdam, said she found the day “very inspiring”.

“The role media plays in international justice is very important and should have more attention,” she said. “There needs to be outreach. Today gave me lots of ideas on how it’s possible to bridge the gap between the courtroom and the public, with a good combination of more theoretical ideas linked to concrete cases.”

“I have a clearer picture now of how justice is more than just about punishing the guilty,” added Caspar Van Gemert, a 25-year-old philosophy student at the University of Amsterdam. “The other side of justice, and perhaps the more important part, is about righting wrongs.”

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