12:50 Defense objects to the court hearing the next prosecution witness, Corinne Dufka

Court is back in session.Prosecutor Shyamala Alagendra requests to admit into evidence a report by an expert, Jennifer Alexander.  The report is called “Children Associated with Fighting Forces in the Conflict of Sierra Leone”, dated May 4, 2007.  Defense has no objection, and the judges admit it into evidence.  Prosecutor Alagendra requests that the executive summary of the report be allowed to be read for the benefit of the public.  The defense says reading this has no purpose and they had been unaware of prosecution’s desire to read the summary.  Judge Doherty says that for purposes of the record and public consumption in Sierra Leone and Liberia, the summary may be read.The summary, as read by Prosecutor Alagendra: In 1996 the Sierra Leonean government began a program together with UNICEF and other agencies to trace former fighters reunified with their families.  The research team sought to create a database on children abducted under age 15, and their experiences.  Key findings: all warring factions abducted children, but RUF used the tactic more than others; median age of abduction was between 11 and 5; children as young as five were armed and took part in active combat; RUF and RUF/AFRC were most often cited for use of children in combat; girls were sexually abused; children served as forced labor; children were abducted across Sierra Leone and throughout the war.Prosecutor Alagendra calls the next witness, Corinne Dufka, to be led by Mohamed Bangura.Defense says it has a substantial objection to this witness being called. First, she is not an expert in the sense usually understood in international tribunals.  Second, her report and the annexes to it violate Taylor’s right to examine or have examined witnesses against him.  Third, we submit that much of her evidence goes to the ultimate issues for this court to determine.  Fourth, the scope of her report go beyond the territorial and temporal limits of the indictment – outside Sierra Leone and before and after the indictment.  Fifth, this witness is not impartial or independent.  As far as expertise is concerned, testimony should enlighten the court on specific issues in specific fields, such as scientific or medical issues.  Experts are not to testify about facts rather than expertise.  Ms. Dufka’s report consists of accounts of atrocities.  In that sense, she is doing no more than putting forth in summary form factual evidence.  There is no expertise involved.  She is putting forth evidence that cannot be evaluated by the court, and which cannot be questioned by the defense.  To allow this factual material in via an “expert” undermines the concept of an expert giving evidence.  In some cases, there is no information on where the information in her report comes from.  The report goes to the ultimate issues for the court to decide.  I can give you examples.Judge Doherty: The procedure for expert witnesses is layed out in Rule 94B.  You’re not accepting the statement, and you’re also challenging the witness as an expert?Defense counsel Munyard: Yes.  On our fifth point, she is not impartial, we base this on three things: she works as an advocate on human rights issues.  Human Rights Watch is essentially an advocacy organization, and it’s in this capacity that a number of these report were put forward.  This witness also worked for the Office of the Prosecutor in this case for one year, 2002-2003.  She found and interviewed witnesses.  We’re aware that she interviewed at least 18 witnesses to be called in this case.  Thirdly, she’s given a large number of interviews and made public comments about matters under consideration by this court.  Her message is very clear: that this accused is guilty of the crimes for which he is accused.  She is not to be regarded as impartial.Prosecutor Mohamed Bangura replies: The basis of the first objection is that the witness has no qualifications to be an expert as defined at this tribunal.  At this stage it would be premature to make determination of qualifications of the witness before hearing from the witness about her qualifications.  The defense says that the substance of her evidence is not based on her personal knowledge.  We disagree.  The court can hear hearsay evidence.  Her expertise comes from meetings with victims and witnesses of atrocities, then analyzes the material in reports.  This requires certain skills.  You need to hear the witness before determining whether she qualifies as an expert.  Defense says some of the material goes outside the temporal jurisdiction of the court.  The court can hear evidence that is contextual to the timeframe of the indictment.  That evidence is relevant.  Defense points to issues of reliability of the material and its probitive value.  These matters should be considered at the end of the proceedings, and court can determine the weight of the evidence.  The witness will talk about the methods involved in putting together the report – standards that are objective and fair.  Defense makes the point that the witness has been associated with the prosecution and works for an organization that advocates human rights.  The jurisprudence of international tribunals is clear: a witness having been associated with the prosecution does not in itself disqualify testimony from that person as an expert.  (Cites a [pdf] decision of May 2007 from trial chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the case of Prosecutor vs. Boskoski and Tarculovski; also cites a 2003 decision of ICTY: Prosecutor vs. Brdjanin).  Regarding the witness’s public statements, these go to the weight of her evidence, to be determined by the chamber.  The witness’s association with the Special Court does not undermine her objectivity.  The witness could be tested on her objectivity through cross-examination by the defense.  I submit that her report does not go to the ultimate issue of the trial.  The report is based on interviews conducted by the witness and in many cases are not her own words, but merely reported by her.  These are eyewitness accounts.Defense counsel: Mr. Bangura has mischaracterized our objections.  This court is quite capable of understanding witness accounts and does not need an “expert” to understand accounts.  How to gather evidence is not expertise lacking by this court.  Mr. Bangura mischaracterizes the ICTY jurisprudence he cited: In the Boskoski case, the witness, Mr. Burgess did not work for the prosecution, and he had training in police management.  That’s very different from Corinne Dufka, a report writer, being put forward as an expert on gathering evidence.  I would also cite jurisprudence from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), a decision by its Trial Chamber III in October 2007 in the case of Prosecutor vs. Karemera and Others.  It is in regard to a report writer called as an expert.Presiding judge Theresa Doherty is conferring with Judges Julia Sebutinde and Richard Lussick.  They are also reviewing the documents submitted by the prosecution and defense.