Press Release . Communiqué de presse
(Exclusively for the use of the media. Not an official document)
The Hague, 4 September 2002
JOINT PRESS RELEASE WITH REGARD TO KOSOVO SEXUAL ASSAULT WITNESSES FROM THE REGISTRAR AND PROSECUTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR THE FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
The Registrar and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are of the opinion that a response is required to an article entitled "Witnesses – Rape victims refuse to return to Kosovo", by Naser Sertolli, published in Tuesday’s edition of ZERI (3 September 2002).
A number of points need to be made about the article. First, it revealed travel arrangements of a Tribunal witness whose testimony, heard in closed sessions, was of a confidential nature and purposely not released to the public. Accordingly the article itself compromised the security of the witness.
Secondly, the article published partial and unreliable facts about the Tribunal’s post-trial protection measures and the inaccurate and hasty conclusions drawn in the article compromise not only the security of the witnesses but their families as well.
Before witnesses' return to their home countries, the Victim and Witness Section, a neutral body under the authority of the Registrar, ensures that the necessary protection and support measures are put in place for all witnesses. In the specific case referred to in the article, the Victim and Witness Section carried out a full assessment and developed a specific long-term program
combining both protective and supportive elements, to meet the needs of these brave witnesses. For obvious reasons the Tribunal does not publish the measures taken to provide protection for witnesses. To the fullest extent possible the Tribunal seeks to ensure that witnesses resume a safe and normal life in their own country or community. Only in rare circumstances where such severe
threat exists to the life of the witness are they relocated to another country under the formal Relocation Agreements.
The Registrar and Prosecutor’s concern about the post-trial welfare and protection of witnesses who testify before the Tribunal, necessarily takes into account several interests, including a responsibility not to jeopardize any witness’s welfare and security, nor their willingness to testify in other cases before the Tribunal. It is the Tribunal’s successful, and largely
confidential trial and post-trial protection measures, that permits the Prosecutor to bring accused persons to trial and to bring justice to the victims.
To the extent that the article in question suggests that the Tribunal is not responding to the needs of the witnesses in question, the Registrar and Prosecutor, categorically denounce such assertions as false and misleading and certainly detrimental to the welfare of the witnesses and the credibility of the Tribunal.