“An Attack of Free Speech:” Florence Hartmann’s case from the Hague

On September 14, 2009, the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague ordered Florence Hartmann to pay a fine of 7,000 Euros for violating the court’s confidentiality pledge.

Florence Hartmann, a former journalist for the French Daily Le Monde, was a spokeswoman for the ICTY from 2000 to 2006. After she left her position as a spokeswoman for the former chief war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte in 2006, she wrote a book – Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice and several articles in Paris Match magazine. In her book and articles, she revealed “the ICTY had decided in secret not to disclose information that could have proved a link between Belgrade and war crimes committed in Bosnia – most notably massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the Bosnian village of Srebrenica in 1995.” During the war crimes case against former President Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian government had submitted the document to the court on the condition of secrecy. Upon Milosevic’s death in March of 2006, the trial ended – without a verdict. The original documents have been not published yet (BBC News, 2009).

Even though Hartmann is not the only a journalist who reported the information, Bakone Moloto, a judge of the ICTY, said Hartmann “knowingly and willfully interfered with the administration of justice” (The Independent, 2009).   

After the conviction, critics insisted that the documents should not have been the subject of a confidentiality order and that the court’s decision is “an attack of free speech” (BBC News, 2009). Preserver La Justice Internationale, an activist group helping Florence Hartmann, proclaims the court’s decision is absolutely unacceptable, even though she was not sentenced to jail. It is a flagrant injustice to her as a person, and could cause consequences in European human rights beyond this case.               

Please check the websites and articles below for further information.


Florence Hartmann case website

Preserver la Justice Internationale

News Articles

"Profile: Florence Hartman," BBC News, September 14, 2009.

"Former Hague official found guilty of contempt for book revelations, France 24, September 14, 2009.

Gray-Block, Aaron, "UN war crimes tribunal fines ex-spokeswoman for contempt of court, The Independent, September 15, 2009.

Cody, Edward, “International Court Fines Journalist for Secrecy Violation, The Washington Post, September 15, 2009. 




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