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What's new? - Dec 2009

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International Justice

A big information gap separates international courts charged with trying the world's worst crimes from the populations that have been victim of those crimes. Independent information can help to reduce this gap. That's a challenge Fondation Hirondelle is ready to take up.

International justice has made big strides in the last fifteen years, with the creation since 1993 of several international criminal tribunals and then, in 2002, of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC is the first permanent international criminal court and its jurisdiction is worldwide. It thus represents a big step forward in the fight against impunity. But this new system of international justice lacks visibility, especially among the populations it is most intended to serve. A big gulf separates them. This gulf is firstly geographical, since the ICC is located in The Hague, far from the countries where atrocities imputed to those on trial were carried out. Secondly, the gulf is conceptual, owing to the complex nature of the cases, the procedures and legal language used.

The ICC's communication services are tasked with ensuring the Court's visibility through distribution of information and outreach activities. But so long as the information is not selected, covered and followed up by local media in the same way as other important information and with the same possibility to include critical content, then that communication has trouble achieving its goals. The populations concerned need independent information in everyday language, and what is more in their own languages. That is the best way to close the gap between the populations that are victims of grave human rights abuses and the institutions set up to bring them justice. It is also the way those populations can make international justice their own.

That's why Fondation Hirondelle wants to create an International Justice News Agency, so as to reach the people most affected. And Fondation Hirondelle has an advantage in this respect: we already have leading radio stations in the countries where the ICC is prosecuting crimes: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Sudan.