Gendercide Watch Launches Campaign Against ILO's Forced Labour Convention
Note: Beginning in April 2001, Gendercide Watch is launching an international campaign to persuade the International Labour Organization (ILO) to reform its Convention on Forced or Compulsory Labour of 1930, which we consider "perhaps the most egregiously gender-discriminatory piece of international legislation in effect today." (See the corvée (forced) labour case-study.) The following letter has been sent to Mr. Juan Somavia, Director-General of the ILO. We strongly urge all concerned visitors to this site to consider writing their own letter to Mr. Somavia expressing their concern about the Convention. You might choose to use the following letter as a guide, making the appropriate changes to the text.
6 April 2001
Mr. Juan Somavia
International Labour Organization
Route des Morillons 4
1211 Geneva 22
Dear Mr. Somavia,
I am writing to express my organization's deep concern about one of the ILO's key pieces of legislation, namely the Convention Concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour of 1930, and to urge the ILO to undertake an immediate and far-reaching reform of this Convention.
Gendercide Watch is devoted to confronting gender-selective atrocities against men and women worldwide. We have recently completed and posted a detailed case-study of the institution of corvée (forced) labour, which we consider, together with infanticide, the most "gendercidal" institution in human history.
Throughout history and continuing into modern times, the practice of forced labour has overwhelmingly targeted adult able-bodied men, leading to millions if not tens of millions of deaths. Despite this grim record, the ILO's Forced Labour Convention designates one group and one group only as legitimate targets for forced labour: these same adult able-bodied men. Article 11 of the Convention states that "Only adult able-bodied males who are of an apparent age of not less than 18 and not more than 45 years may be called upon for forced or compulsory labour," so long as "they are physically fit for the work required and for the conditions under which it is to be carried out" and "the number of adult able-bodied men indispensable for family and social life" is allowed to remain in communities targeted for forced labour. In addition, the ILO states that both the forced labour involved in military conscription and the use of prison labour are acceptable under the terms of the Convention. Both of these institutions, of course, target males close to 100 percent of the time (see the Gendercide Watch case-studies of military conscription and incarceration/the death penalty).
It is certainly the case that the Convention seeks to impose significant restrictions on the use of male forced labourers. However, by contrast with the absolute ban on using women, children, and the elderly for forced labour, a significant loophole remains for governments to exploit adult able-bodied males for corvée purposes. Other organizations do not allow for such exceptional (mis)treatment. The Code of Conduct of the U.S. Fair Labor Association, for example, decrees that "there shall not be any use of forced labor, whether in the form of prison labor, indentured labor, bonded labor or otherwise" (emphasis added).
In our view, the ILO's continuing application of this antiquated Convention represents a blatant case of gender discrimination, and is dramatically at odds with your organization's mandate to promote "social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights." Accordingly, Gendercide Watch is mounting an international campaign to press for sweeping reform of the 1930 Convention. We call on the ILO to outlaw completely the practice of forced labour, at all times and in all its forms.
We are very much aware of the ILO's exceptional work over the decades in helping to promote and guarantee labour rights and standards. This record, however, only casts the flaws of the Convention on Forced or Compulsory Labour into sharper relief.
I hope you will consider our reform proposal carefully, and I look forward to an official response at your earliest convenience.
Yours most sincerely,
Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Press Release #5
Gendercide Watch Calls for
August 30, 2000
The non-governmental organization Gendercide Watch today commemorated the first anniversary of East Timor's historic independence vote with a call for a fullscale census of the territory's population. Such a census was urgently needed, the organization contended, to determine the true scale of last year's catastrophic violence, and the fate of tens of thousands of "unaccounted-for" Timorese.
"The issue of the missing people of East Timor has evaporated from news coverage since last November," said Gendercide Watch executive director Adam Jones. "Most media have been content to report that only 'hundreds' or even 'dozens' of Timorese were killed during the Indonesian rampage one year ago. Bad as that would be, we hope they are right. But a formidable weight of evidence suggests they could be dead wrong."
The organization, devoted to confronting gender-selective atrocities against men and women worldwide, has launched a detailed case-study of the Timor events on its website. It cites evidence that Indonesian forces and their Timorese militia allies systematically targeted thousands of younger males, in particular, for roundups and mass executions.
Jones noted the comments of Australian Maj.-Gen. Peter Cosgrove, head of InterFET (the International Force in East Timor), who stated last November that tens of thousands of Timorese -- Cosgrove's estimate was 80,000 -- were still unaccounted-for, long after U.N.-backed forces took control of the territory. "And Cosgrove was working with a low estimate of Timor's population -- just 800,000 people," Jones said. "At the time of the plebiscite on August 30, the U.N. estimate was somewhere between 850,000 and 890,000. And we never had a clearer idea of the Timorese population than we did at the outbreak of the violence -- since the U.N. had just finished an intensive voter-registration drive. That means the number of missing could be much higher than Cosgrove claimed."
(On November 3, 1999, Cosgrove told media that "There is a discrepancy, we feel, of about 80,000 [people]. Are these in the hills or just unlocated? We are not sure. There could be more in West Timor than we've found, there could be more in the hills, or in the wider area of the Indonesia[n] archipelago." He also mentioned "speculation about a fourth fate." Two days later, The Sydney Morning Herald reported: "Different U.N. officials calculate that the human cost of Indonesia's bloody withdrawal could be close to 200,000." According to the East Timor Observatory, a Portuguese body, "Whatever figures are used, the difference is in the region of tens of thousands, probably many tens of thousands. It would be illogical to dismiss the possibility of genocide before finding out what has really happened to all the 'disappeared.'")
The vast numbers of missing have been written off as "statistical errors," Jones added. "But these 'errors' have never been explained. There hasn't been a flood of refugees discovered in the mountains, or scattered around the Indonesian islands. And given the wealth of physical evidence, intelligence data, and eyewitness testimony of genocidal atrocities in East Timor last September, we think the real error is dismissing the possibility that a great many more Timorese may have been murdered than the conventional wisdom holds.
"All authorities agree that the Indonesians took great pains to cover their tracks. Many of the major massacre sites were stripped clean of corpses, leaving only a few bones and empty cartridges behind. And there are persistent reports, based on intelligence sources as well as eyewitness accounts, of large numbers of victims being taken out to sea and dumped," Jones noted. He pointed to an investigation by Paul Daley of the Melbourne Age, citing the findings of U.S. and Australian intelligence agencies. ("It is possible to reach only one conclusion," Daley wrote last November. "East Timor is the scene of a massive crime against humanity -- and an even bigger attempt at cover-up -- by Indonesia's security forces.")
Assessing the scale of the killings was rendered immeasurably more difficult, Jones said, by the snail-like pace of international investigations. "The U.N.'s performance throughout the September crisis, and afterwards, was simply pathetic. First, they all but abandoned the Timorese to their fate, after luring them to the polls with promises of protection. Only a revolt by their local staff prevented a total withdrawal. Then, they fiddled for three months before sending a tiny team of international investigators for a ten-day visit. Meanwhile, monsoon rains were washing away most of the remaining evidence -- while amateur Timorese investigators, mostly teams of students, were uncovering hundreds of killings in the capital, Dili, alone.
"You really have to wonder whether the U.N. is doing everything it can to downplay the atrocities, in order to cast its abandonment of the Timorese in the best possible light."
Establishing the scale of the killing last September was not merely a matter of historical accuracy, Jones said. "There's an elementary question of justice involved. If slaughter took place on a massive or even genocidal scale, that has to be seen as the culmination of two-and-a-half decades of Indonesian genocide in East Timor. If a war-crimes tribunal is established under U.N. auspices, and we earnestly hope it will be, the nature and scale of the crimes committed after the independence vote will be an absolutely central issue."
Western intelligence agencies should be obliged to turn over all relevant data to investigators, said Jones. But a census, similar to the voter-registration drive conducted last year, was also indispensable to solving the mystery of Timor's missing. "The international community has already shown it can count Timorese when it wants to. We demand a recount."
Letter to Human Rights Watch
On the Kashmir Conflict
August 22, 2000
Dear Human Rights Watch,
Thank you for forwarding your latest press release on Kashmir (August 21). I congratulate you, as always, on the dedicated efforts of your researchers in helping to bring these atrocities to light.
I was greatly surprised, however, to find that the gender dimension of the recent killings is not explicitly mentioned in the release. Most notably, your description of the mass murder of "Hindu migrant laborers at a brick-kiln factory" makes no mention of the fact that these were all males, and that the victims were systematically separated from children and women before being gunned down. This is made clear in the following Canadian Press account (August 2):
"On Tuesday evening, guerrillas swooped down on the Mir Bazar village near Anantnag, forcing people out of their homes and separating women and children from the men, said a police spokesman in Srinagar, the state's summer capital. The men -- brick factory workers who had migrated from other Indian states -- were lined up and shot, police said. They said 19 people were killed."
In fact, all the victims whose gender is noted in your release are male, and the reference to three of those killed at Kot Dara belonging to the local Village Defense Committee leads one to suspect that they, too, were men. In most if not all respects, then, the recent murders appear to exemplify the "gendercidal" trend that has long been evident in killings by all sides in the Kashmir conflict (see the Gendercide Watch case study of Kashmir/Punjab/The Delhi Massacre). The killers themselves are exclusively male; but this is clearly specified throughout the press release (with references to the "group of men" who committed the atrocities at Ind, the "group of gunmen" at Kotdara, the "gunman" at Qazi Gund, and the "gunmen" at Pahalgam).
One must ask whether, if most or all of those killed in recent weeks had been female, including many separated from other members of the community before being murdered, Human Rights Watch would not have chosen to highlight this pattern in the headline and body of its press release. I urge you to consider issuing a statement clarifying, and condemning, the gender-selective character of the continuing atrocities in Kashmir.
Adam Jones, Ph.D.
Press Release #4
Gendercide Watch Demands Justice for Srebrenica Victims
July 11, 2000
The non-governmental organization Gendercide Watch, dedicated to "confronting gender-selective atrocities worldwide," today issued an appeal for justice to mark the fifth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II.
"Five short years ago, at least seven thousand Muslim men and boys were exterminated by Serb killing squads," said Adam Jones, executive director of the organization and a professor of international studies at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City.
"The masterminds behind this genocidal slaughter are still at large, living comfortable lives. We join with many international organizations -- and especially with survivors of the massacre -- in demanding that the planners and perpetrators be held to account for their crimes."
The massacre -- actually a series of massacres -- took place from July 11 to 13, 1995, after Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces. A small number of the alleged killers, notably Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, have been turned over to the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague and are currently standing trial. But the key architects -- President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic -- are still at large.
"Srebrenica may have been the final act in the Bosnian 'gendercide,'" Jones said, referring to the systematic targeting of men and adolescent boys throughout the Balkans conflict. "But it was also a blueprint for the widespread atrocities against men that constituted the most severe human-rights violations in Kosovo last year."
Gendercide Watch, founded early in 2000, includes a case-study of the Srebrenica killings -- along with those elsewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Kosovo -- on its website.
Jones said that the massacre highlighted the particular vulnerability of non-combatant men and boys in situations of genocide and armed conflict.
"We welcome the recent attention paid by the United Nations and many other national and international actors to the suffering and special needs of women and girls," Jones stated. "But the prevailing framing of gender and international human rights is extraordinarily one-sided.
"Srebrenica is a reminder that when a terrorist government or movement seeks to impose its will on a given population by violence and mass atrocity, it is usually non-combatant men who will be targeted first, and worst," Jones said. Recent outbreaks of genocidal killing in Rwanda and East Timor can also be cited in this regard, he added.
"The U.N. and other bodies urgently need to frame their policies on gender and international conflict in a more inclusive way -- one that addresses the male experience without short-changing women and girls."
He pointed out that at Srebrenica, Dutch U.N. forces stood idly by while Bosnian Serb troops and Yugoslav paramilitaries separated males -- including elderly men and adolescent boys – from the refugee population and carted them away to their deaths. Thousands of other men and boys were rounded up in the forests surrounding Srebrenica and massacred.
"Anyone who was familiar with the strategies used by the Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb forces throughout the Balkans war could not have failed to understand what would happen to the men once they were separated," Jones contended. "But to its lasting shame, the U.N. did nothing, and the 'safe area' they had declared in Srebrenica was turned into a slaughterhouse."
Press Release #3
Gendercide Watch Calls for Tribunal to Try Alleged Architects of Bangladesh Genocide
March 20, 2000
On the occasion of U.S. president Bill Clinton’s March 20 visit to Bangladesh, Gendercide Watch calls upon the president and the international community to support the establishing of a war-crimes tribunal to extradite and prosecute the accused perpetrators of the 1971 genocide in Bangladesh.
Our organization considers the crimes perpetrated against the Bengali people of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) by West Pakistani military to be among the worst outrages in human history. Yet the Bangladeshi genocide has been almost erased from the historical record. Few are aware that, in the words of Agence France-Presse (December 16, 1999), up to “three million Bengalis were killed and some 200,000 raped or tortured, allegedly by Pakistani troops or their local collaborators.” The concerted campaign of mass murder was orchestrated by individuals who are still alive and living comfortable lives.
The genocide against Bengalis was carried out in the context of a West Pakistani campaign to suppress the increasingly independence-minded populace of the east. The two “wings” had been separated by hundreds of miles of Indian territory since partition in 1947. Genocide was the mechanism chosen to ensure that East Pakistan, culturally and ethnically distinct from the west, would bend to the neo-colonial arrangements imposed on it by the economically and militarily more powerful West Pakistani regime.
The killing overwhelmingly targeted younger men, who were viewed as actual or potential dissidents and were rounded up for extermination en masse, in scenes reminiscent of the Japanese occupation of Nanjing in 1937. As such, Gendercide Watch considers the Bangladeshi events to constitute one of the worst gendercides (acts of gender-selective killing) against males in the last half-millennium. As with the “Rape of Nanjing,” too, atrocities against women were epidemic. Many Bengali women died, and others still live with the trauma of the gang rapes and other acts of torture that were their lot -- a trauma compounded by their subsequent rejection at the hands of Bangladeshi society.
A core group of West Pakistani generals is accused of organizing this all-out assault on the Bengali population. They are “still alive … and respected citizens” in Pakistan, according to A. H. Jaffor Ullah. Other accused war-criminals are living overseas in the United Kingdom, the U.S.A., and elsewhere. (For further information on the events and those accused of responsibility for them, see the Gendercide Watch case-study of Bangladesh.)
Three decades after the holocaust, wounds remain fresh. According to the Agence France-Presse, some 85 percent of Bangladeshis wish to see the perpetrators tried before an international tribunal for genocide and crimes against humanity. A New York-based organization, Bangla-Nuremberg, has organized to generate support for the initiative and publicize the present-day activities of the alleged masterminds of the slaughter.
In the view of Gendercide Watch, the Bangladesh genocide is a shamefully neglected episode of mass murder and crimes against humanity. The United States, which supplied the West Pakistani regime with millions of dollars in military equipment while the genocide was underway, must bear a special burden of responsibility. The all-too-brief visit by a U.S. president to Bangladesh -- the first since independence was won in 1971 -- offers the opportunity to cast light on these epic crimes. If the architects and functionaries of the Jewish holocaust of the 1940s are still being pursued wherever they live, the impunity granted to those who inflicted genocide on the Bengali people must end.
Note: During his few hours in Bangladesh on March 20, President Clinton chose to cancel a planned visit to the National Mausoleum in Dhaka, which commemorates the victims of the 1971 genocide.
Press Release #2
Rights Group Condemns "Gendercide" Against Women and Girls
March 8, 2000
Gendercide Watch today reiterated its "strongest concern" about abuses and genocidal atrocities against women and girls, which it called "one of the most pressing human-rights issues of the age."
Copyright © Gendercide Watch 1999-2000. All Rights Reserved.
In a statement released on March 8, the organization's executive director, Adam Jones, stated that "International Women's Day offers activists and other concerned individuals an opportunity to reflect on the broad range of abuses, atrocities, and structural discrimination inflicted upon hundreds of millions of ordinary women and girl children around the world."
Gendercide Watch, a Web-based educational initiative launched in February 2000, is devoted to confronting gender-selective atrocities worldwide. "Unlike many other organizations, we adopt an inclusive approach to gender and human rights," Jones said. "But this means that crimes against women and girls, specifically 'gendercidal' atrocities, are at the very forefront of our agenda."
The organization has recently launched a case-study, one of thirteen currently posted to its website (www.gendercide.org), which examines the genocide in Bangladesh in 1971. Although younger males were overwhelmingly targeted for extermination by the Pakistani authorities, the events also featured some of the most severe and systematic atrocities ever inflicted upon women in wartime.
"Bengali women by the tens of thousands were targeted for brutal rape and often murder," Jones said. "All told, the genocide in Bangladesh was one of the most horrific of the twentieth century.
"However, none of the perpetrators of the genocide has ever been brought to justice; all are still living comfortably in Pakistan and other countries, including the United States." Gendercide Watch is lending its support to calls for an international tribunal to extradite and prosecute the architects of the Bangladeshi genocide, and will issue a press release on the subject to coincide with President Bill Clinton's upcoming visit to Bangladesh.
Among the other case-studies on the organization's website are the Armenian holocaust of 1915-17 and the Nanjing Massacre of 1937-38. "In all these cases, women were targeted by the tens or hundreds of thousands for rape and murder," Jones said. "They serve as a reminder that women's vulnerability to genocidal atrocities is frequently extreme."
"But it is not only in 'traditional' cases of war and genocide that this vulnerability is marked," Jones added. For example, Gendercide Watch has prepared a case-study on maternal mortality. Some 600,000 women are estimated to die in agony each year as the result of governments' unwillingness to provide basic health-care services and facilities for pregnant women.
"That is a death-toll that approaches the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, and it's repeated every year," Jones said. "Clearly, the cause lies in illegitimate cultural beliefs and political practices that consign women to the bottom of the ladder when it comes to providing basic social services. When will states and their leaders acknowledge that women's rights and women's health are among the most pressing issues confronting their societies?"
The organization is currently preparing case-studies of other institutions that overwhelmingly target females for gendercidal killing. "We're preparing materials on female infanticide and women's nutritional deficit, both subjects that have received little attention from the mass media and government agencies," Jones noted.
Press Release #1
Activists Denounce "Gendercide" in Chechnya
February 14, 2000
The atrocities that Russian forces are currently inflicting on "battle-age" men in Chechnya are a direct replay of events in Kosovo and East Timor only a few months ago, according to a newly-launched organization devoted to confronting gender-selective atrocities worldwide.
Adam Jones, executive director of Gendercide Watch (www.gendercide.org), said that the pattern of separation, torture, and mass killing of Chechen men bears a striking resemblance to the horrors unleashed on defenseless Kosovars and Timorese in 1999 -- and on Chechens in the last war of 1994-96.
"The same gendercidal strategies are being followed to the letter," Jones said from Mexico City, where he is a professor of International Studies at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE).
"Hundreds of men have been rounded up in recent days and either summarily executed or tossed into so-called 'infiltration' camps, where according to a Russian human-rights group they are 'tortured, raped, and beaten until their limbs break.'"
Jones, a 36-year-old Ph.D. graduate from the University of British Columbia, has published extensively on gender-selective atrocities in the Balkans and elsewhere. He launched Gendercide Watch with two other Canadian activists, Carla Bergman and Nart Villeneuve, on February 14 -- the same day The Globe and Mail reported claims by Human Rights Watch that it had documented "44 cases in which Chechen civilians in one Grozny district were executed in cold blood by Russian soldiers," with "similar executions" reported in other suburbs.
"It's impossible to know how many non-combatant men have died since the fall of Grozny, but the number is clearly in the hundreds and may shortly climb to thousands," Jones said. "Indiscriminate massacres of women, elderly men and young children have also been reported, and should be condemned with equal vigour. But the evidence of a pattern of gender-selective murder and torture of Chechen males is now overwhelming."
The Gendercide Watch site marshalls evidence from a current and historical case-studies to argue that "gendercide" against both men and women constitutes "one of humanity's worst blights, and one of its greatest challenges in the new millennium."
"It looks like we're starting the new millennium as we ended the old one," Jones said. "If the past teaches us anything, it's that the time for action is now. There is every possibility that the gendercidal atrocities could reach the scale of Kosovo or East Timor in a matter of days or weeks."
A complete halt to foreign aid for Russia should be announced immediately, he stated, and western countries should consider recalling their ambassadors, freezing the foreign assets of Russian leaders, and banning Russian planes from western airports. "Nobody is suggesting we should go in and start bombing. But there is a great deal that could be done on the diplomatic and economic front to send a very clear message that the world will no longer tolerate this sort of systematic slaughter and mass torture."
Jones commended Human Rights Watch, in particular, for its investigations of the recent gender-selective atrocities in Chechnya. "In the past, they and Amnesty International have been very lax in their attention to gender-selective murders of non-combatant men," he said. "But maybe the message is beginning to get through. In any case, I applaud their efforts wholeheartedly."
[Note: for more information on the Chechnya executions, see Geoffrey York's article, "Russians Accused of Executing Chechens", The Globe and Mail, February 14, 2000.]
Two months earlier, on December 14, 1999, Jones sent the following letter to Human Rights Watch (a slightly different version was also sent to various branches of Amnesty International):
Bulletin after bulletin from Human Rights Watch on Chechnya is arriving with the same theme: the overwhelming (indeed, often exclusive) predominance of men among the victims of systematic abuse, up to and including selective murders. In addition to the brutal treatment reported in your December 14 bulletin, you have informed us of the summary execution of "numerous civilians who resisted the looting" of Alkhan-Yurt (December 11) -- with all the victims cited apparently male, although this fact was never noted. Likewise, although it is glancingly pointed out in today's bulletin that groups of men were targeted in particular instances, no broader pattern of abuses against Chechen men is acknowledged.
Something of the same "culling" procedures seem to be operating as in Kosovo and numerous other conflict-zones worldwide, with men separated from women and exposed to severe ill-treatment, including summary execution. If the atrocities have not yet reached the same scale as in Kosovo or Bosnia, this nonetheless seems a profoundly dangerous moment, with the Russians poised to take Grozny and perhaps inflict an indiscriminate massacre on remaining men of "battle age".
Other groups within the population are vulnerable in their own way (the elderly, children, women), but you and other commentators have at least addressed their plight. I urge you to pay specific attention to the threat posed to Chechen males, who may be the most vulnerable of all, and to monitor their situation closely. I commend you as always on your excellent and dedicated efforts.
Kosovo and the Criminal Tribunal:
(In January 2000, after two earlier inquiries went unacknowledged and unanswered, Gendercide Watch executive director Adam Jones sent the following letter to Carla del Ponte, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The issues raised in the article are explored in detail in Jones's article, "Kosovo: Orders of Magnitude", published in IDEA - A Journal of Social Issues, 5: 1. See also the Kosovo case-study on this site.)
10 January 2000
Ms. Carla Del Ponte, Chief Prosecutor
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
The Hague, Netherlands
Dear Ms. Del Ponte,
Please allow me first to extend belated congratulations on your appointment to head the ICTY.
You give the impression of being a very capable and forthright investigator -- one who will, I
hope, increase the prominence of human-rights concerns on the international policy agenda.
This is also one of my key concerns, and has led to a book project, Gendering Kosovo, which is
currently nearing completion. As a “spin-off” from this project, I have drafted an article,
“Kosovo: Orders of Magnitude", addressing the scale and character of Serb atrocities in Kosovo
between March and June 1999. ...
The article contains some strong criticisms (as well as praise) of the ICTY’s investigations in
Kosovo, focusing on key sites such as the Trepca mines and alleged mass gravesites on the
outskirts of Pristina. You will appreciate that, as an academic researcher, I must rely on the
ICTY’s public statements and media coverage of the Tribunal’s investigations in Kosovo. This
makes it more difficult to access specific details of individual sites investigated (or not
investigated) by the Tribunal’s teams.
Accordingly, on November 10, 1999, I faxed a two-page letter to your spokesperson, Mr. Paul
Risley, and public information officer Ms. Valérie Brion, outlining a series of questions which
I will shortly also be putting to you. It had been my wish to avoid troubling you with this
request, but I must say that this particular member of the public is finding it extremely
difficult to get information, or even an acknowledgment, from your public information office. I
received no response to my fax of November 10; nor did I receive an acknowledgment or reply to a
follow-up fax, reiterating the questions, on November 26. In both of these communications, I
stressed that my questions were time-sensitive, and that I was anxious to secure the ICTY’s
formal response both to the media reports, and to my own claims in “Kosovo: Orders of Magnitude”
and the forthcoming book on Kosovo.
It does not seem to me that the questions are complicated ones, and I am afraid at this point I
must trouble you personally to respond to them:
• When, exactly, did French KFOR troops first reach the Trepca minesite, and when were their
reports of suspicious activities at Trepca first received by ICTY headquarters (as reported in
The New York Times, July 7 1999)? How many French troops provided testimony to the ICTY? Were
there any inaccuracies in the Times article that you are aware of?
• When did ICTY investigators first reach the Trepca minesite, and how many investigators were
• Was any investigation carried out of the mile-deep mineshafts at the Trepca site, or only of
the shallower ventilation shafts? Was it possible to probe the ventilation shafts and/or deeper
shafts to the very bottom with the technology available to the investigators?
• What is the present status of the Trepca investigation? Are any further site visits planned?
I also expressed a desire, in my earlier faxes, to clarify the ICTY’s stand on allegations made
by the Greek Cypriot forensic pathologist, Dr. Marios Matsakis (e.g., Reuters, August 20 1999),
to the effect that a large number of apparent gravesites had been found in Pristina’s main
cemetery (Dragodan?). At the time, Tribunal representative Jim Landale stated that the ICTY was
aware of the site, and “planned a preliminary investigation within weeks.” Was the site
eventually examined? If so, how extensively, and with what results?
Ms. Del Ponte, I know you have a great many other things to deal with in your responsibilities
as ICTY chief prosecutor. But I believe the gravity of these investigations warrants – indeed,
requires -- the specific clarifications I am seeking. At the very least, I would ask you to
direct your public information office to provide me with a response. [...]
Response from Paul Risley, Public Information Officer, ICTY:
11 January 2000
In response to your Kosovo questions to Madame Del Ponte dated 10 January, Madame Del Ponte
asked me to reply to your letter:
I took the time to read your article (in progress) on Kosovo from your website. It is a
well-written and researched summary and analysis of the events that place in Kosovo that the
Tribunal is now in the process of investigating. In fact, I have printed your article and will
pass on to Madame Del Ponte for her review, as well for our Kosovo investigators, who may find
your work of interest.
As you can well imagine, the Office of the Prosecutor is presently investigating the violence
that took place in Kosovo. We are quite reluctant to release any specific information on our
ongoing investigations that may, in fact, be useful to attorneys who may someday represent
individuals charged with specific crimes in relation to the violence that took place in Kosovo.
Indeed, it was with great reluctance that the Prosecutor went so far as to release the data we
released on 10 November 1999 regarding the number of bodies exhumed to date in Kosovo by our
investigators. As with the work of her teams in Kosovo, the Prosecutor made this announcement
of our finding because there is, to a limited degree, a public need to know, and the Office of
the Prosecutor is willing to accomodate that need -- again, to a limited degree.
With regards the questions you raise, the Prosecutor and her investigators are quite unwilling,
at this point in time, to provide the level of detailed responses that you seek.
I will keep the questions you raise in your letter of 10 January on file. Should the position
of the Prosecutor change, I will be happy to inform you.
I encourage you to keep in contact with the Tribunal. Please feel free to contact me directly
by phone or email: 31 70 416 8871 or, Risley.ICTY@un.org
Very sincerely yours,
Response to Risley, 12 January 2000:
Dear Mr. Risley,
I am very grateful for your quick response to my recent inquiry, and glad to have an official
statement from the International Criminal Tribunal on the questions I raised. I also thank you
for your compliments about my article on Kosovo, and for passing it on to Madame Del Ponte. I
am quite honoured that she would take the time to review it, and would appreciate any comments
she might choose to share, on or off the record as she prefers.
As a scholar, it is naturally very frustrating to be unable to secure specific clarification of
key points of the ICTY's investigations in Kosovo. But the reluctance of the Tribunal to make
this information public is not incomprehensible to me. I do, though, see a difference -- and
perhaps you would ask Madame Del Ponte whether she might also see a difference -- between the
specifics of the investigations, on the one hand (e.g., the mineshafts and alleged gravesites);
and, on the other hand, the pace of those investigations. Would it truly compromise the
Tribunal's work, for example, to indicate precisely when French troops reported their findings
from Trepca to the Tribunal (whatever those findings were); and precisely when the first ICTY
investigators reached the scene (whatever their findings were)? I wonder if this aspect of the
Trepca investigations, and of Trepca only, could at least be clarified now.
Thanks again for responding, and for reading my draft article. I will certainly accept your
kind invitation to keep in contact with the Tribunal, and look forward to following its
important work in the Balkans, and at The Hague, in months and years to come.
Adam Jones, Ph.D.
[No further comment had been received from the ICTY at the time of writing.]