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Author Topic: U.N. Court Orders Reporter To Testify
Babbler # 2401

posted 12 June 2002 03:46 AM      Profile for goodgoditsnottrue   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
U.N. Court Orders Reporter To Testify
Article Quoted Serb Accused of Genocide

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 11, 2002; Page A22

A U.N. war crimes tribunal has ruled that a former Washington Post reporter must testify in a case involving allegations of genocide during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

From: Tarana | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Babbler # 478

posted 12 June 2002 10:30 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I believe this is wrong on principle. I'll wait for Jeff House to come along and tell me why the privilege must be qualified ... but I think I still gonna disagree.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
Babbler # 518

posted 12 June 2002 03:55 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The question of whether journalists should have a privilege is a very hard one. Of course, you will seldom read, anywhere, that they should not, because journalists feel they are a special bunch.

This decision at least differentiates between already published material and information not published.

In Canada, the Supreme Court ruled last December that tv reporters have to provide "outtakes" of any videos taken which may depict a crime. So, not only is the televised version evidence, but everything else, too.

In the case which is referred to, it appears that someone may have made a statement relevant to the question of whether or not "ethnic cleansing" was planned. Was there a recording of the statement?
That would be very strong evidence, it seems to me.

And, presumably, we want war criminals to be convicted, so we want to be wary about offering
a privilege not to testify to categories of people.

On the other hand, we want a free press. And I presume there is some reality to the idea that people will not talk to the press so much, if they think they will hear their statements at an eventual trial, possibly leading to their imprisonment for life.

Generally, courts face this problem in the context of a criminal trial, as in this case. And so the free press issue seems more abstract, and the "obtain all the evidence" tack seems more pressing.

So courts usually privilege the need for evidence in a criminal trial above all other rights. An example is the case of U.S. v. Nixon, the Watergate case. There, Nixon relied on executive privilege, a doctrine that the executive cannot be forced to hand over its secrets to the judicial branch.

The court held that, while that might be true in some cases, a criminal trial and the issues of guilt or innocence took precedence over the executive's right.

From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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