Second panel in the Innovative Media for Change in Transitional Justice conference, A Debate between Journalists, Academics and Practitioners on Transitional Justice, Media and Conflict held on 22-23 June 2015.
It is well known that open sources and in particular journalistic sources can play a key role in providing information on the commission of international crimes and as such are relevant to the work of International Criminal Tribunals (ICTs). When it comes to gathering and disclosing information, however, the relationship between media and ICTs becomes complicated: On the one hand, investigators and prosecutors may need open sources and journalistic information to build their cases; material gathered by people in the field might perform an essential function in this respect. At the same time, they are faced with stringent legal requirements that apply to evidence and procedure. On the other hand, journalists are often the first and sometimes the only professionals who witness and record events that are relevant for criminal investigations and prosecutions. However, in the performance of their tasks, they are bound by their own professional obligations – which do not necessarily reflect the interest of law enforcement agencies – and may be faced with various dilemmas when asked to provide information to ICTs or evidence as expert witnesses. In short, the cooperation between media and ICTs is often times fraught with tensions and ambiguities. The panel will use this insight as a starting point to explore the following questions: What are the concerns and expectations of both sides in terms of information gathering and sharing? What are ways of creating a constructive debate between both sides? What principles can be established to ensure a fruitful cooperation? Against this backdrop, the panel aims to discuss first ideas around best practices directed at both practitioners from ICTs and journalists.
Panelists: Payam Akhavan – Professor of International Law, McGill University, Montreal, Former First Legal Advisor to the ICTY-ICTR, served with the UN in Bosnia, Croatia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Rwanda, and Timor Leste. Nerma Jelacic – Head of External Relations for the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), London, Former Spokesperson and Head of Outreach and Communications for the ICTY, Ella McPherson – Lecturer in the Sociology of New Media and Digital Technology, University of Cambridge, Don Ferencz (Facilitator) – Convenor of the Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression, Research Associate at the Centre for Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford