(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
Open letter from the detainees regarding their conditions at the ICTY's detention unit
At their initiative, a delegation of the detainees of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) met with the Tribunal’s Spokesman in the United Nations Detention Unit on Monday 10 and Wednesday 12 August 1998.
This delegation consisted of Mr. Zejnil Delalic, Mr. Tihomir Blaskic, Mr. Dario Kordic and Mr. Simo Zaric. They expressed the wish to be able to publicly set the record straight about their conditions of detention by issuing an open letter to the ICTY President signed by of all the detainees.
The Registrar of the Tribunal agreed to this request and the President of the Tribunal approved the release of the attached letter.
OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE ICTY FROM THE DETAINEES AT THE UN DETENTION UNIT
"We have become aware of recent reports in the media picturing us among other things as depressed and preparing for riots. These reports do not have any substance: we are in a better position than anyone else to say that reports of this kind are complete nonsense and lies.
These reports reflect neither the atmosphere within the Detention Unit nor our state of mind. They are the result of malicious desinformation and harm us by trivializing the core of our real concerns about our conditions of detention.
The deaths of Mr. Dokmanovic and Mr. Kovacevic have had a heavy impact on all of us. Every one of us has reacted to these tragic events in his own way. But they have also brought about something positive: we have become closer to each other.
Putting aside the emotional aspects of our situation, we discussed collectively our conditions of detention and decided to suggest improvements: notwithstanding the efforts made by the current management of the Detention Unit and in spite of the decent and fair treatment given to all of us by the management, there are in our view still important shortcomings.
Wishing to express our real concerns in a fair and open manner, we discussed them with the Commanding Officer of the Detention Unit and on 3 August 1998 we set them forth in a letter to the President and the Registrar of the ICTY. This letter was signed without hesitation by all of us.
The key remarks in this letter concern our request for a daily adequate medical care, for more fresh air and exercise, for more and better food, for a better accommodation of the visits by our immediate family and lawyers, and for the possibility to receive TV and radio programs from our own countries. We have invited the President and the Registrar to visit us and to meet us in person in order to discuss these issues.
We have also prepared a separate document which has been forwarded by the Registry of the Tribunal to the President of the Tribunal, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch as well as to the Dutch authorities (Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In this document we identified five "crucial issues": the need for fair and speedy trials, the inequality of resources available to the prosecution over the defence, the biased publicity given to our cases by concentrating on the prosecution, the improvement of our conditions of detention and the lack of care in examining indictments before issuing arrest warrants.
Far from being depressed, we are seeking ways to increase our hope and faith that it is worth fighting for justice and truth".
The signed original document has been filed with the Registry. The Hague 12-08-1998
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
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