ICTY prison auditors recommend modest reforms after Milosevic death in custody

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [official website] should undertake a series of reforms at its Scheveningen detention unit [BBC backgrounder] including reviewing arrangements to implement administrative court orders, separating detainees currently on trial or awaiting trial from those who have been found guilty, and decreasing the lag time before sentenced detainees are transferred out of the detention facility, according to an independent audit [text; press release] conducted by Swedish investigators. The ICTY asked a team of Swedish experts to review its management and administration of the detention unit [JURIST report] after Slobodan Milosevic [JURIST news archive] died [JURIST report] of a heart attack in mid-March while in custody.

Though auditors did not address Milosevic specifically, they expressed concern that ICTY administrative orders, such as allowing a detainee to conduct his own defense, often complicate the enforcement of prison rules and recommended increased coordination between the court and prison officials:

Our attention has been drawn to the fact that administrative court orders issued by the Trial Chambers in individual cases can have noteworthy consequences for DU operations. The Chambers can give the Registrar instructions for individual detainees, in the form of court orders, without consulting the Registrar or the management of the DU in order to investigate the potential implications of the instructions or whether it is possible to implement them while continuing to meet safety and security requirements. Sometimes, the Chambers' court orders have adverse consequences for good prison practice. In one noted case, a detainee was permitted to conduct his own defence, which involved extensive external contacts and a large number of visits. Additional complications arose when another detainee at the DU was to participate as a witness. The consequences of this special arrangement were that it became difficult to maintain sufficient control over visits and telephone conversations. It should also be pointed out that privileges the Chambers give to individual detainees risk becoming standard practice in that other detainees demand the same rights.

Another example of a court order that complicated operations arose when a Chamber ordered the Registrar to ensure that a certain detainee saw a medical specialist within 24 hours. The Chamber had not made sure in advance that it was practically possible to carry out this order, which incidentally was wholly dependent on prioritisation by medical expertise outside the institution, in the Dutch health care system.

The management of the DU and the Registrar have pointed to the difficulties involved in implementing certain administrative court orders. The issue has been discussed at the Tribunal, not least between the DU and the management of the Registry. At the request of the Registrar, in autumn 2004 OLAD investigated the consequences of the special privileges that were given to one detainee and proposed modifications in the arrangements. As we understand it, this has not led to any changes in routines concerning the formulation of court orders.

In our view, it is admittedly obviously the case that the Chambers must be able to issue administrative orders to the Registrar. However, it would be appropriate for such court orders to be issued after consultation with the Registrar, so as to ensure that they are possible to implement in a manner that does not jeopardise the operations and security of the DU.
The investigators also praised management and staff at the detention facility [AP report] for conducting "their duties in a self-critical and transparent manner" and reported that prison regulations are "complete and comprehensive." Reuters has more.

 

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