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Press advisory: Witness Issues in the Trial of Fatmir Limaj et al. relevant to the Media

Press Advisory . Avis pour information
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)

The Hague, 23 November 2004



In the trial of Fatmir Limaj, Isak Musliu and Haradin Bala, the Prosecution’s case-in-chief is now well underway. It is expected that the Prosecution will soon be summoning its first witnesses from the former Yugoslavia.

The Tribunal respectfully wishes to remind the media that although the majority of witnesses will be appearing publicly, some will be granted certain protective measures inside the courtroom.

This means that while the witnesses will be in full view of the accused and their defence counsel at all times in the courtroom, the witnesses’ identities may be protected from the public by the use of a pseudonym. Additionally, the broadcast of the trial may include further protective measures such as the witnesses’ faces being pixilated or their voices being electronically distorted.

Such measures may only be ordered by the Judges for witnesses where it is demonstrated that there is a genuine potential threat to their security.

Media should be fully aware that it is prohibited for anyone to violate a protective order issued by a Judge by revealing information which would compromise in any way the safety of a witness.

These regulations are part of the ICTY’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence (RPE) and are based on Rules that are found in national systems from around the world.  The RPE is a public document and can be found on the Tribunal’s website or can be provided upon request.

Rule 75 stipulates what kind of protective measures Judges may consider ordering with regard to witnesses.  The Rule includes the following:

Measures for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses 

(A)     A Judge or a Chamber may, proprio motu or at the request of either party, or of the victim or witness concerned, or of the Victims and Witnesses Section, order appropriate measures for the privacy and protection of victims and witnesses, provided that the measures are consistent with the rights of the accused.

(B)     A Chamber may hold an in camera proceeding to determine whether to order:

         (i) measures to prevent disclosure to the public or the media of the identity or whereabouts of a victim or a witness, or of persons related to or associated with a victim or witness by such means as:
           (a) expunging names and identifying information from the Tribunal’s public records;
           (b) non-disclosure to the public of any records identifying the victim;
           (c) giving of testimony through image- or voice- altering devices or closed circuit television; and
           (d) assignment of a pseudonym;

       (ii)   closed sessions, in accordance with Rule 79;
       (iii) appropriate measures to facilitate the testimony of vulnerable victims and witnesses, such as one-way closed circuit television.

Anyone violating such an order, including the media, can, pursuant to Rule 77, be subject to a term of imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of Euro 100,000.


For further information please call: +31 (70) 512-5343 or 512-5356.