The International Federation of Journalists has today called upon Carla Del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, to drop charges against a Croatian journalist accused of publishing the name of a protected witness.
Josip Jovic appeared before the Hague Tribunal last Friday where he pleaded not guilty to the charges of contempt of court for publishing the name of the witness, a senior Croatian politician, who had testified before the ICTY.
“The ICTY’s work is of great importance, but their case against Jovic is full of holes and should be dropped,” said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. “Many other media had already published this witness’s name; the article was written five years ago; and the identity of the witness has been publicly available on the ICTY’s own website since 1998. The ICTY is damaging its reputation by being seen to prosecute journalists for publishing information that was already in the public domain.”
The case has provoked furious debate in Croatia after Jovic was arrested by Croatian authorities on 6 October after refusing to travel to The Hague. He was released a week later when he agreed to testify. On Friday he pleaded not guilty before the ICTY and returned home the same day.
“The IFJ is also aware that many Croatian journalists feel that Jovic should acknowledge some responsibility for his actions,” added White. “But we fully support the Croatian Journalists’ Association, CJA, which is working hard to find a solution to the problem.”
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries