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International criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia13 June 2002

Journalist forced to give evidence to rights court

Reporters Without Borders protested today at the 9 June decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to order ex-Washington Post reporter Jonathan Randal to give evidence about an interview he had in 1993 with a former Bosnian Serb leader. He has already refused to answer a previous summons by the court to testify at the trial of Bosnian Serb leaders Momir Talic and Radoslav Brdjanin.

"If journalists in war zones are now to be seen as aides to international courts, the already very dangerous job of war correspondent will soon become impossible," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to the ICTY’s chief prosecutor, Carla del Ponte. "New war crimes will be committed, this time out of sight of the media."

"Reporters give evidence about world events, but in real time and for the benefit of international public opinion," he said. "We urge you to not jeopardise this very important duty for the sake of a court case. I am sure other witnesses can be found who are not journalists."

The ICTY said on 9 June that the right of journalists not to reveal their sources, which would excuse them from giving court evidence, did not apply in this case since the person interviewed was a public figure.

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