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contribution 14 - ESSOUNGOU André-Michel

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Witnesses protection vs Public debate

André-Michel ESSOUNGOU

transtlated version

André Michel Essoungou is my name, and I was a journalist at the time of the events. So I just wanted to add something to what Mr. Duval said from the standpoint of the journalist that I am working for two years in the life of the Tribunal at the time when not many persons were present in Arusha in the world media.

Confidentiality, as I understand, confidentiality with regard to witnesses and the trial proceedings is important, but to the journalist and to the public, what it has led to, that it is impossible to follow the proceedings. I remember that I covered the proceedings from the beginning, the opening statements of the Prosecutor and the Defence, and the major witnesses, like Dallaire and the others. For the others, we had to trust the Defence witnesses or the Prosecutor because they didn’t say much.

The upshot is that it belies the concept that justice must be done, but it has to be seen to be done. So for us journalists who do not see justice as being done, how do we portray to the public that it is being done?

After spending two years at the Tribunal, one of the most fascinating things is that I know nothing about the judgement because I have to go back on it, look at certain things because the witness is speaking, you don’t know who is speaking, and then you have to find out what Witness X said that Z did and so on. So it is difficult for me to report on this.

I don’t have any solution to this debate, to this issue, but we should try to find out how this justice should be seen to be done. There is a colleague who was working for Radio Rwanda back then, it was difficult for him to report to his public. But in my case, I was reporting to millions of listeners. But he had to report to the local audience, and if he spent an entire week without penning an article, it would be terrible.

So, yes, witnesses and the proceedings have to be protected. But what is the use of justice that is not seen to be done?


François Roux, you have the floor now, maybe not to address that issue.