News 20 Oct 17

Hague Tribunal Tries Out Video Calls for Defendants

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague is introducing a pilot project that will enable defendants held in the UN court’s detention centre to make video calls.

Dragana Erjavec
The UN Detention Unit in Scheveningen, The Hague. Photo: BIRN.

The secretariat at the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which is the successor to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, announced on Friday that it will soon pilot a project enabling detainees to make video calls.

At the moment, detainees are only allowed to receive and send letters, make telephone calls and receive visitors.

Former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic has asked the court on several occasions to allow him to use Skype or other means of video communication.

Karadzic’s defence lawyer Peter Robinson told BIRN that people held in other prisons in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe can already make video contact with family members

“The secretariat’s decision to launch the pilot project, which would enable detainees to see their families via Skype or other similar technologies, is certainly a step forward in creating human conditions in detention,” Robinson said.

“This is very important when detainees are far away from their family members, such is the case of Radovan Karadzic,” he added.

During a status conference on October 10, Karadzic repeated his request to be allowed to access the internet and use Skype, which would make finding materials for his work and communicating with his family easier.

He also asked the Hague judges to allow him to use a laptop because he has back pain caused by sitting at a desktop for hours.

The court’s secretariat rejected his requests, explaining that it would soon launch a pilot project for video calls.

Karadzic has been held in the UN Detention Unit in Scheveningen since his arrest in 2008.

In March last year, Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his involvement in the Srebrenica genocide, crimes against humanity across Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

However, he was acquitted of genocide in several Bosnian municipalities in 1992.

Both Karadzic and the Hague prosecution have appealed against the verdict, with the former Bosnian Serb political leader asking to be acquitted of all charges and the prosecutors asking for his sentence to be increased to life in prison.

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