Electronic disclosure

Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on Disclosure - 17.04.2007 ŠEŠELJ Vojislav

19. […] The Trial Chamber considered the “particular circumstances” of Mr. Šešelj’s representation including the fact that he is “not officially assisted by persons fluent in one of the official languages of the Tribunal”,[1] and whether disclosure of Rule 66 (A) and (B) and Rule 68 (i) and (ii) materials in English and in electronic format would affect Mr. Šešelj’s rights under Article 21 of the Statute. It held that electronic disclosure of Rule 66 (A) and (B) and Rule 68(i) materials did not breach the fair hearing principle stipulated under Article 21 of the Statute so long as reasonable and necessary assistance in the circumstances is given to an accused and noted that Mr. Šešelj would be “entitled to receive from the Registry the basic equipment and training necessary to make effective use of material disclosed in electronic format”.[2] It also ruled that in addition to Rule 66(A) material, which expressly provides for disclosure in a language the accused understands, Rule 68(i) material should also be subject to the same language requirement, because of the crucial impact of such material on the accused’s guilt or innocence.[3] Mr. Šešelj does not provide any references to the jurisprudence that the Trial Chamber allegedly disregarded in reaching the Impugned Decision. Neither does Mr. Šešelj demonstrate in what way the Impugned Decision violated his rights under Article 21 of the Statute.

[1] Impugned Decision, para. 7.

[2] Ibid., paras 12-13.

[3] Ibid., para. 15.

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Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on Further Investigations - 08.12.2006 NAHIMANA et al. (Media case)

The Appeals Chamber found that, in the circumstances of the case, the Prosecution was not in breach of its Rule 66(B) disclosure obligation since the material at stake was available via EDS.

10. La Chambre d’appel prend note du fait que le Procureur a informé la Défense de la disponibilité des dossiers MINALOC et MRND et des déclarations de Joseph Serugendo après le dépôt de la Requête de l’Appelant alors qu’il aurait pu le faire plus tôt[1]. Cependant, l’Appelant n’a pas fait état, jusqu’à ce jour, de difficultés dans l’obtention des documents via EDS.[2] En conséquence, la Chambre d’appel considère que la demande de communication sur la base de l’article 66 du Règlement relative à ces documents est sans objet.

[1] [footnote omitted].

[2] En même temps et vu que le Procureur semble se référer aux articles 66 et 68 du Règlement en invoquant le fait que les documents en question sont disponibles sur EDS (Réponse à la Requête du 10 octobre 2006, par. 17-19), la Chambre d’appel tient à rappeler que le simple fait pour le Procureur d’introduire une pièce dans EDS ne revient pas nécessairement à s’acquitter de ses obligations au titre de l’article 68 du Règlement et à donner à un accusé la possibilité d’y « avoir aisément accès » (The Prosecutor v. Édouard Karemera et al., Case No. ICTR-98-44-AR73.7, Decision on Interlocutory Appeal Regarding the Role of the Prosecutor’s Electronic Disclosure Suite in Discharging Disclosure Obligations, 30 juin 2006 (« Décision Karemera du 30 juin 2006 »), par. 15 ; Décision Bralo du 30 août 2006, par. 35).

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ICTR Rule Rule 66 ICTY Rule Rule 66
Notion(s) Filing Case
Review Decision - 30.06.2006 NIYITEGEKA Eliézer

Para. 61: the Appeals Chamber recalled that Rule 68(B) requires the Prosecution to make available to the Appellant, “in electronic form, collections of relevant material held by the Prosecution, together with appropriate computer software with which the Defence can search such collections electronically” and as such the Prosecution cannot rely upon its failure to diligently update electronic records to justify a disclosure failure.

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ICTR Rule Rule 68 ICTY Rule Rule 68
Notion(s) Filing Case
Decision on Interlocutory Appeal on EDS - 30.06.2006 KAREMERA et al.

In the present case, the Prosecution argued that it could discharge its Rule 68 disclosure obligations through the EDS. The Appeals Chamber dismissed the Prosecution’s appeal, holding that the EDS does not discharge the Prosecution of its positive obligation to disclose exculpatory material in its possession. The full reasoning is provided below (paras 8-16):


8. The Prosecution argues that the Trial Chamber erred as a matter of law in finding that it cannot discharge its disclosure obligations under Rule 68 by making the Prosecution evidence collection and other relevant materials accessible to the Defence through the EDS.[1] In identifying the Trial Chamber’s alleged legal error, the Prosecution contends that the Trial Chamber failed to appreciate the searchable format of the EDS.[2] However, in the very same passage upon which the Prosecution relies in support of this proposition, the Trial Chamber clearly expressed that the EDS, “allows the Defence to do its searches for exculpatory material.”[3] Consequently, the Appeals Chamber cannot agree that the Trial Chamber failed to appreciate this aspect of the EDS. Rather, in the view of the Appeals Chamber, the Prosecution appears to take issue with the Trial Chamber’s finding that the Prosecution has a “positive obligation” to disclose Rule 68 material “in its possession” to individual accused.[4] The Appeals Chamber, however, can identify no legal error on the part of the Trial Chamber in holding that the Prosecution has a positive obligation to disclose exculpatory material in its possession.

9. The Prosecution’s obligation to disclose exculpatory material is essential to a fair trial.[5] The Appeals Chamber has always interpreted this obligation broadly.[6] The positive nature of this obligation and its significance stem from the Prosecution’s duty to investigate, which the Appeals Chamber has explained runs conterminously with its duty to prosecute.[7] In particular, the Appeals Chamber recalls that one of the purposes of the Prosecution’s investigative function is “to assist the Tribunal to arrive at the truth and to do justice for the international community, victims, and the accused.”[8] The responsibility for disclosing exculpatory material rests on the Prosecution alone, and the determination of what material meets Rule 68 disclosure requirements is primarily a fact-based judgement, falling within the Prosecution’s responsibility.[9] In other words, the Prosecution has a distinct obligation to participate in the process of administering justice by disclosing to the Defence, as required by Rule 68(A), material which it actually knows “may suggest the innocence or mitigate the guilt of the accused or affect the credibility of the Prosecution evidence”. This responsibility is crucial to the analysis.

10. Bearing these principles in mind, the Prosecution must actively review the material in its possession for exculpatory material[10] and, at the very least, inform the accused of its existence.[11] In the view of the Appeals Chamber, the Prosecution’s Rule 68 obligation to disclose extends beyond simply making available its entire evidence collection in a searchable format. A search engine cannot serve as a surrogate for the Prosecution’s individualized consideration of the material in its possession. As such, the Appeals Chamber can identify no legal error on the part of the Trial Chamber in finding that the EDS, as described by the Prosecution, fails to fulfill these important and expansive obligations.

11. The Prosecution’s reasoning includes the following two steps. First, it argues that paragraphs (A) and (B) of Rule 68 establish two distinct disclosure obligations covering different categories of materials: paragraph (A) applies to materials that the Prosecution actually knows may be exculpatory, while paragraph (B) applies more broadly to all “collections of relevant material”, whether or not the Prosecution knows that they may be exculpatory. Second, it argues that when the Prosecution provides the defence with an electronic collection of relevant materials in satisfaction of its obligation under paragraph (B), that also satisfies its obligations under paragraph (A) with respect to any materials governed by paragraph (A) that may be found somewhere within the collection. The Appeals Chamber notes that while the first step of the Prosecution’s argument appears to embrace a rather broad interpretation of the Prosecution’s disclosure obligations, the second step would have the effect of curtailing them by making it unnecessary for the Prosecution to draw the attention of the Defence to the particular material that it actually knows may be exculpatory.

12. The Appeals Chamber observes several flaws in the Prosecution’s reasoning. The Prosecution’s obligation to disclose to the defence material that may suggest the innocence or mitigate the guilt of the accused or affect the credibility of Prosecution evidence is set forth in Rule 68(A).[12] It is only Rule 68(A) that articulates which material is subject to disclosure under this rule and which obliges the Prosecution to disclose it. Rule 68(B) does not establish a distinct disclosure obligation.[13] Rather, it simply provides for a possible modality of conveying exculpatory material to the defence, in an electronic format, after the Prosecution identifies it as “relevant material” which is subject to disclosure under Rule 68. This is supported by the plain language of sub-paragraph B of Rule 68 and by its drafting history, which focused on the technical feasibility of providing to the defence electronic versions of documents subject to Rule 68 disclosure.[14]

13. Thus, disclosure under Rule 68(B) is merely the digital equivalent of disclosure under Rule 68(A), consisting of the same material in searchable electronic form. For these reasons, for the Prosecution to seek to satisfy its Rule 68 obligations merely by granting the Defence access to an electronic database containing tens of thousands of documents, only a few of which it knows to be potentially exculpatory, is the equivalent of the Prosecution seeking to satisfy those obligations by giving the Defence a key to a storage closet containing the same tens of thousands of documents in paper form. In both cases, the Prosecution has for all intents and purposes buried the exculpatory materials, at least unless it notifies the Defence of the existence of such materials and provides a means by which the Defence can be reasonably expected to find them. Rule 68(B) was not intended to facilitate this kind of evasion of the Prosecution’s disclosure obligations. Indeed, its text makes clear that it is in no way intended to dilute or circumvent Rule 68(A)’s requirements: it states that it is “without prejudice to paragraph (A)”.[15]

14. The Prosecution’s second principal argument on appeal is that, by creating the EDS and by making it searchable, its collection is now “reasonably accessible” to the defence, which is a recognized exception to its obligation to disclose.[16] By way of illustration, the Prosecution refers to Appeals Chamber jurisprudence indicating that transcripts of open session testimony are not subject to disclosure as they are “reasonably accessible”.[17] Mr. Nzirorera disputes this claim, emphasizing the difficulty of identifying exculpatory material given the redacted nature of the documents on the EDS.[18] The Prosecution counters that Mr. Nzirorera’s complaints are belied by his possession of material, which it surmises came from the EDS, thereby demonstrating its proper functioning.[19] The Appeals Chamber observes that it is not clear from the record how Mr. Nzirorera obtained the material he used to demonstrate that the Prosecution was in breach of its disclosure obligations.

15. The Appeals Chamber agrees that the Prosecution may be relieved of its Rule 68 obligation if the existence of the relevant exculpatory material is known to the Defence and if it is reasonably accessible through the exercise of due diligence.[20] On the basis of the record before it, however, the Appeals Chamber cannot find that the EDS makes documents reasonably accessible as a general matter, nor that the Defence can be assumed to know about all materials included in it. The determination whether given exculpatory information is reasonably accessible, and whether its existence is known to the Defence requires a careful examination of the relevant circumstances.[21] This is true for material on the EDS – especially given that, as Mr. Nzirorera notes, it may be difficult to recognize material as exculpatory if it is only available in redacted form – just as it is true for material not found on this system. The Appeals Chamber has not been asked to decide here whether the Prosecution satisfied its disclosure obligation with respect to any particular piece of information. The Appeals Chamber cautions the Prosecution, however, that just because it has placed a particular piece of material on the EDS, it has not necessarily made that piece of material “reasonably accessible” to any given accused. It might be helpful if the Prosecution either separates a special file for Rule 68 material or draws the attention of the Defence to such material in writing and permanently updates the special file or the written notice.


[1] Prosecution Appeal, paras. 2, 16, 18.

[2] Prosecution Appeal, para. 25.

[3] Impugned Decision, p. 5; Prosecution Appeal, para. 25.

[4] Prosecution Appeal, para. 34 (“The Trial Chamber incorrectly formulated the Prosecutor’s obligation, stating that the Prosecution has a ‘positive obligation to disclose all Rule 68 material in the possession of the Prosecution’”) (emphasis in original); Prosecution Reply and Response, para. 7 (“The objectionable language used by the Trial Chamber in the impugned Decision was that the EDS ‘does not relieve the Prosecution from its positive obligation to disclose all Rule 68 material in the possession of the Prosecution’”) (emphasis in original).

[5] Nzirorera Appeal Decision, para. 7 [The Prosecutor v. Édouard Karemera et al., Case No. 98-44-AR73.6, Decision on Joseph Nzirorera’s Interlocutory Appeal, 28 April 2006). See also The Prosecutor v. Théoneste Bagosora et al., Case Nos. ICTR-98-41-AR73, ICTR-98-41-AR73(B), Decision on Interlocutory Appeals on Witness Protection Orders, 6 October 2005, para. 44 (“Bagosora Appeal Decision”); The Prosecutor v. Dario Kordić and Mario Čerkez, Case No. IT-95-14/2-A, Appeal Judgement, 17 December 2004, paras. 183, 242 (“Kordić and Čerkez Appeal Judgement”); The Prosecutor v. Tihomir Blaškić, Case No. IT-95-14-A, Judgement, 20 July 2004, para. 264 (“Blaškić Appeal Judgement”); The Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstić, Case No. IT-98-33-A, Judgement, 19 April 2004, para. 180 (“Krstić Appeal Judgement”); The Prosecutor v. Radoslav Brđanin, Case No. IT-99-36-A, Decision on Appellant’s Motion for Disclosure Pursuant to Rule 68 and Motion for an Order to the Registrar to Disclose Certain Materials, 7 December 2004, p. 3 (“Brđanin Appeal Decision”).

[6] Blaškić Appeal Judgement, paras. 265, 266; Krstić Appeal Judgement, para. 180.

[7] Bagosora Appeal Decision, para. 44. See also Brđanin Appeal Decision, p. 3; Kordić and Čerkez Appeal Judgement, para. 183; Blaškić Appeal Judgement, para. 264.

[8] Prosecution Regulation No. 2, para. 2(h). As a result, the Appeals Chamber finds disconcerting the Prosecution’s suggestion before the Trial Chamber that it is somehow not obliged to search for material impacting on the credibility of its own witnesses. See T. 13 February 2006 p. 11 (“we cannot exhaustively search the entire OTP database simply to prosecute witnesses that we’re bringing to this Court as part of our Prosecution case … our job here is to prosecute the three men … sitting on the other side of the courtroom. We do not prosecute our other witnesses. When we find material that is relevant to this case and relevant to – and within the parameters of Rule 68, we disclose it, but we can only do the best that we can do, and that’s what we’ve done.”).

[9] Nzirorera Appeal Decision, paras. 16, 22; Bagosora Appeal Decision, para. 43 (“… the [disclosure] obligations rest on the Prosecutor alone …”). See also Kordić and Čerkez Appeal Judgement, para. 183; Brđanin Appeal Decision, p. 3.

[10] See, e.g., Blaškić Appeal Judgement, para. 302; The Prosecutor v. Juvénal Kajelijeli, Case No. ICTR-98-44A-A, Judgement, 23 May 2005, para. 262. The Appeals Chamber has recognized that the voluminous nature of materials “in the possession” of Prosecutor may give rise to delays in disclosure. It does not however excuse the Prosecution from reviewing it and assessing it in light of Rule 68. See, e.g., Blaskić Appeal Judgement, para. 300 (“… the voluminous nature of the materials in the possession of the Prosecution may result in delayed disclosure, since the material in question may be identified only after the trial proceedings have concluded.”); Krstić Appeal Judgement, para. 197 (“The Appeals Chamber is sympathetic to the argument of the Prosecution that in most instances material requires processing, translation, analysis and identification as exculpatory material. The Prosecution cannot be expected to disclose material which – despite its best efforts - it has not been able to review and assess. Nevertheless, the Prosecution did take an inordinate amount of time before disclosing material in this case, and has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation for the delay.”) (internal citation omitted). Moreover, the Appeals Chamber has explained the unity of the Office of the Prosecutor in discharging disclosure. See Bagosora Appeal Decision, paras. 42-46.

[11] See Krstić Appeal Judgement paras. 190, 195.

[12] Rule 68 (A) provides: “The Prosecutor shall, as soon as practicable, disclose to the Defence any material, which in the actual knowledge of the Prosecutor may suggest the innocence or mitigate the guilt of the accused or affect the credibility of Prosecution evidence.”

[13] Rule 68 (B) provides: “Where possible, and with the agreement of the Defence, and without prejudice to Paragraph (A), the Prosecutor shall make available to the Defence, in electronic form, collections of relevant material held by the Prosecutor, together with appropriate computer software with which the Defence can search such collections electronically.”

[14] Minutes of the Fourteenth Plenary Session (confidential), paras. 87-100.

[15] Indeed, this proviso makes it clear that even if the Prosecution were correct that Rule 68(B) refers to a different category of materials than does Rule 68(A), it would not follow that granting access to the EDS satisfies all of its disclosure obligations.  Instead, it would simply mean that the Prosecution could use electronic disclosure to satisfy its obligation under Rule 68(B) with respect to one category of materials, but would still be obligated to follow the traditional method of disclosure for the narrower category of materials subject to Rule 68(A).  Thus, the second step of the Prosecution’s argument does not follow logically from the first. 

[16] Prosecution Appeal, paras. 2, 43-47. The Prosecution also raises a related argument, submitting that the EDS addresses the underlying rationale for the Prosecution’s disclosure obligation by eliminating its superior access to the material. Prosecution Appeal, paras. 38-42.

[17] Prosecution Appeal, para. 46, citing Blaškić Appeal Judgement and Brđanin Appeal Decision.

[18] Nzirorera Response and Motion, paras. 14-26.

[19] Prosecution Appeal, para. 26.

[20] Brđanin Appeal Decision, p. 4; Blaškić Appeal Judgement, para. 296.

[21] See, e.g., Blaškić Appeal Judgement, paras. 286-303.

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