02 Nov Hayes: Karadzic More Like Taylor than Milosevic
Niamh Hayes, a PhD candidate the Irish Centre for Human Rights and an intern on the Karadzic case, has a very useful guest post at the International Law Bureau about how the Trial Chamber might respond to Dr. Karadzic’s boycott. The entire post is well worth a read, but I was particularly struck by Niamh’s suggestion that Dr. Karadzic’s actions more closely resemble Charles Taylor’s than Milosevic’s or Seselj’s:
The Tribunal’s decisions in this regard and whether they amount to penalising Dr. Karadžić for having the unmitigated temerity to insist on exercising his acknowledged right to self-representation have been discussed elsewhere and could easily form the subject of an entire post. What is worth noting is that, despite the almost uniform characterisation by the media of Dr. Karadžić’s absence this week as intentionally disruptive, politically motivated or equivalent to the obstructive tactics employed by Slobodan Milošević or Vojislav Šešelj, up to this point he has shown exemplary and consistent co-operation with the Tribunal. Perhaps a better comparison would be with Charles Taylor, who famously refused to attend court and fired his defence team on the opening day of his trial in June 2007, after many months of failed motions to be granted adequate time or facilities for his defence. Taylor also submitted a letter to the Court which explained his decision not to attend the trial, and outlined fair trial concerns quite similar to those highlighted by Dr. Karadžić last week. The letter famously concluded “I choose not to be the figleaf of legitimacy for this process.”
While there was an inevitable delay to the commencement of the proceedings against him, which eventually began in January 2008, Mr. Taylor’s concerns regarding the time and facilities for his defence were addressed and he has since proven to be entirely co-operative with the Court and the trial process.
This comparison does not sit well with the media’s preferred narrative, which is to paint Dr. Karadzic — despite months of evidence to the contrary — as just another meglomaniacal Serbian political leader hell-bent on undermining the Tribunal’s authority. Little wonder, then, that no one in the media has bothered to examine the record to determine whether Dr. Karadzic’s complaints have any merit. After all, real reporting is much more difficult than serving as the prosecution’s stenographer.