The Detention Unit of The Hague Tribunal is 'an ordinary prison', where, at some point, more than 400 war crimes indictees from the former Yugoslavia have been held, says manager David Kennedy.
“We currently have 36 detainees. Their average age is fifty-five years. Many of them have health problems,” David Kennedy, Manager of the Detention Unit of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY told journalists at The Hague.
Kennedy said that detainees had very good working environment and that the atmosphere was very peaceful.
“Detainees stay together. No difference is made between them on the basis of their ethnic affiliation. They are allowed to move, because they are not locked in. They have the right to make phone calls, but they have to pay for them,” Kennedy said, pointing out that they could buy products from the Balkans in a specialised shop called the “Balkan Shop”.
Besides that, detainees can prepare food in the kitchen and use computers, but they do not have access to Internet.
Each month detainees can use up to ten days of visits, half of which is reserved for private visits by their spouses, children and other family members. During their stay in the Detention Unit detainees can learn English and French, use computer programmes, perform art activities and so on.
Kennedy said that detainees mingle with each other, adding that the only quarrel, as far as he could remember, was the one between detainees, who played football together.
“The detainees, who are representing themselves before the Tribunal, are the biggest problem for us, because we have to make sure that they have access to electronic databases,” Kennedy said.
The Hague Tribunal's Detention Unit Manager said that detainees had the right to use “private rooms”, which were not monitored while they spent time with their family members. Detainees can perform religious rituals in rooms dedicated for that purpose. The Tribunal has provided religious officers for members of all religions.
During his conversation with journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are on a study tour of The Hague, organized by BIRN BIH, Kennedy said that “illicit” possessions had been found in the Detention Unit only once so far.
BIRN BiH organized the study tour of The Hague with the support from the Swedish Government through the Civil Rights Defenders organizations, and the Swiss Government, which provided financial resources for the tour.
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