Monday, September 14, 2009

On a regrettable decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)

The Specially Appointed Chamber of the ICTY today convicted Florence Hartmann, a one-time spokesperson for a former Tribunal Prosecutor and a former journalist at the French newspaper Le Monde, of contempt for disclosing in a book and as well as an article confidential information in knowing violation of a court order. Summary of the judgment is available here.

One may find the decision highly regrettable. While employees of any court can legitimately be expected to refrain from disseminating confidential information, it is also important to remember that “justice is not a cloistered virtue: she must be allowed to suffer the scrutiny and the respectful even though outspoken comments of ordinary men” (Ambard v AG for Trinidad and Tobago [1936] AC 322, 335, Lord Atkin).

 In this particular case, Hartmann’s freedom of expression must have prevailed over her obligation to respect the confidentiality of court proceedings. Indeed, in her book, the former spokesperson made serious allegations on matters of decisive public interest, i.e. she exposes, among many other dodgy episodes, how Western powers sought to influence the ICTY to spare Serbia a genocide conviction at the ICJ (for further analysis, see EJIL's blog).

LP


http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/international_law/2009/09/on-a-regrettable-decision-of-the-international-criminal-tribunal-for-the-former-yugoslavia-icty.html

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