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Documenting the Brave New Legal System

A March 3rd New York Times article entitled, 'Milosevic Trial Settles Into Slow But Judicious Routine,' offers the following description of The Hague proceedings against Slobodan Milosevic:

[Start NY Times Quote]

"The proceedings are almost excruciatingly fair," said Geoffrey Robertson, a London-based lawyer who has just been selected to head the new special court for war crimes in Sierra Leone.

"The court is bending over backward, perhaps even a little too far. In a serious crime trial in London or any American court, you would not see so much leeway given to a defendant."

-- The New York Times; March 3, 2003, Monday, Late Edition - Final; Section: Section A; Page 4; Column 3; Foreign Desk
By Marlise Simons; Dateline: The Hague

[End NY Times Quote]

Reading the above, I feared for the people of Sierra Leone. Haven't they suffered enough?

For in the real world, The Hague Tribunal manages to violate *every* standard of modern legal practice. For example, in the U.S., Canada and Great Britain, it is the right of accused persons, including if they are acting as their own attorney, to meet in private with advisors of their choice. But the Tribunal decides whether or not to allow privacy. And the Tribunal vetoes visits if a) they think the visitor will later tell the media something unfavorable to the Tribunal or b) they want (or claim to want) some *other* visitor to discuss a particular matter with the defendant instead.

In the legal system favored by Attorney Robertson, slated to head a UN court, and apparently by the NY Times, this flagrant denial of rights is described as "bending over backward, perhaps even a little too far."

Below is a photo image of the fax sent by The Hague Tribunal, denying the visit by a delegation from the International Committee to defend Slobodan Milosevic, as requested by President Milosevic. The delegation was to have included the ICDSM's Attorney, Tiphaine Dickson. Attorney Dickson spent a week at The Hague trying to reverse this ruling, but despite President Milosevic's protest, the Tribunal refused to grant this basic right.

-- Jared Israel

Fax from Tribunal

In his statement to the press last, week, ICDSM media spokesperson Nico Varkevisser wrote the following about the fax below:

[Start excerpt from ICDSM press statement]

At President Milosevic's request, in mid-December the ICDSM sent a delegation to The Hague. However, the meeting was denied by the Tribunal after we were told it would be accepted. Two reasons were given.

The first reason, claimed the Tribunal, was that Ramsey Clark had visited President Milosevic the day before, and in the opinion of Tribunal officials, this sufficed. ICDSM Attorney Tiphaine Dickson spent a week at The Hague trying to reverse this ruling; President Milosevic protested as well; but all to no avail.

Aside from the fact that Mr. Clark's visit bore no relation to the work of the ICDSM, and apart from the fact that Tribunal officials were fully aware of the request by President Milosevic to meet our delegation well before the impromptu visit of Mr. Clark, the reality of this situation, where the Tribunal arbitrarily decides who can and who cannot see President Milosevic, and uses one visit to cancel another, is absurd, unacceptable and in violation of President Milosevic's most basic rights.

The second reason for denying our visit, according to the Tribunal, was that they had concluded from reading the ICDSM Website that we meant to report to the media what President Milosevic told us.

This is remarkable. The Tribunal staff and Prosecution regularly make anti-Milosevic statements to the press. The press lies about what transpires during Tribunal proceedings. But not only is President Milosevic forbidden to talk to the press, on pain of being entirely cut off from the outside world, but members of his support committee are forbidden to talk to the press as well. We protest this attempt to gag us. Of course it demonstrates the profound insecurity of the Tribunal. So much power, so frightened of daylight.

[End excerpt from ICDSM press statement]

Here is the fax from the Tribunal:



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