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International Criminal tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia12 December 2002

Court says journalist does not have to testify

Reporters without Borders welcomes the December 11 decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) not to force ex-Washington Post journalist Jonathan Randal to give evidence before it in a war crimes case.

"This is a landmark," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "The decision is a legal precedent for the new International Criminal Court which will have to rule on such matters."

"War reporters should have maximum protection while doing their dangerous job. Forcing them to give court evidence undermines their credibility and independence. We hope this decision will influence legislators in various countries, such as France, Portugal and Britain, where a journalist’s right not to reveal sources is poorly protected."

Randal was ordered to 7 June to give evidence to the Tribunal about an interview he had in 1993 with former Bosnian-Serb leader Radoslav Brdjanin, as part of the current genocide trial of Brdjanin and another Bosnian-Serb leader, Momir Talic. He refused and appealed against the decision.

The ICTY judges ruled on the appeal that journalists working in war zones could not be forced to testify unless their "evidence had a direct and important value in determining a core issue in the case".

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