Bocar Sy
Chief of Press and Public Affairs
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Interview Date:
October 30, 2008
Arusha, Tanzania
Lisa P. Nathan
Donald J Horowitz
Nell Carden Grey
5:21 - 12:51


Lisa P. Nathan: Can you tell me about your responsibilities in your role that you’ve had for so many years? Some of your job responsibilities, the things that you do, even a typical day.
Answer to the questions, to the queries of who else, it can be journalists calling from wherever, from the United States, from South Africa, from Senegal, from wherever to have an information abou-, about the tribunal. Find the information for them if it is available; send it to them. Because what you should know is that my office deals only with what we call public information.
It is not like you know, a freelance journalist coming here trying to gather some information, trying to find some information going by himself, try it – no. I deal with what is called public information. That should be something which comes from the registry, approved, let us say, by the parties like the chambers we can say or the Prosecutor or whatever and considered as being public.
Being public mean that can be sent to the public or disseminated to the public, that I’m not dealing with something confidential. What I deal is something, we can call it if you want, official. Anyway, that is how, how I deal.
And, and a normal day here for me is also fol-, to follow what is going on in the courtrooms, to know what is going on, because you know that we have four courtrooms here. And all these c-, courtrooms, when they’re working on, when they work together, that means we have four cases going together and we have to report on these four cases.
Journalist are coming from outside or public are coming from outside to attend the courts. You have – my office have to welcome them, to direct them, to show them where to go, what to do and what, what, what they can attend because sometimes also we can have courtrooms which are "in camera" as we call. I don’t know if this the proper word, but whatever. That mean that public is not admitted there, that means they are, they are, they are in the camera, you cannot be there.
Only when it is decided that this is public, that is where we can admit journalist and public to watch it. And at the end of the day, at the end of the day, not today, not, not every day I mean, but usually we write a press release. A press release is just a summary of what have happened in the court. If we deem it interested, interesting, to be disseminated to the public, to be sent out to the public, we write a press release and we send it out for the public to know.
We send it through the mail, we send it through the fax. Sometimes what happen is that to – if let us (__) take a case of an initial appearance, which is the first time that an accused person appeared before the court, or a judgment which we, we deem very, very important for people following the cases, we, we also record it.
Videotape it and send it through our satellite because we have, we have a – we don’t have satellite, but let us say, we have, we have what we call a transponder. We have a part in a satellite, which is, which the – (_______) which is very, very important covering from this part to the east part of the United Nations, let us say. That is, that is something that we, we can do also.
(______), we receive people every day here, we have school boys coming. Sh-, people showing, showing up at, at, at the gates just, they don’t have to have an appointment to be, to be authorized to come and see what is going on.
It is a public place and we’re calling people to come and to watch or to be informed on what is going on here, because the first mission of, in the overall mission of (__________), first, the first mission of this is to inform people of what is going on and how justice is rendered.
LPN: Can you describe the, the people that work with you in the press office? Something about your team?
We are, we are journalists; because we, we’re dealing with, with press. They call them sometime, you know, public relations officers, but it’s the same because dealing with publics and press and information whatever. They are journalists; they are very competent people. I can say with a background of more than 15 years (_____).
They are bilingual; some of them are trilingual if I can say, because some of them speak Swahili and also Kinyarwanda, because, because you know that my department deal with these two official languages which are French and English.
But it is, it is also important for us to have someone who can deal with Swahili which is the language of the country where we are and also Kinyarwanda which is the language of Rwanda which is you know, the country which we are dealing with, where the, the witnesses are from and the country that we want to, as much as possible – which (____) the population, the Rwandese population should be informed about what is going on here.
And the best way for us maybe to reach them is to talk to them in the language that they understand you know, which is the Kinyarwanda usually.
And the people working with me are, as I told you, journalists. We are, here in, in my office in Arusha, we are not too many. Let us say that, we are myself and two colleagues also, journalists who are here. One is a Tanzanian, the other one is a Rwandese speaking, speaking Kinyarwanda, leading this project. Whatever is called project because we have to take a lot of projects when we have money.
That is very important because you cannot just take projects just like that without money, but as I say whenever we have money, we undertake some projects that we have because we have a lot of project dealing with what we call outreach program, trying, you know, to build something important for the Rwandese population and also for the people of the Great Lake region.
(___________). And we have assistants, two assistants, dealing, working with me. One is dealing with the website, very important, very important job and she’s also what we call an additional assistant because you know that we issue also – in my department, (_______) the fact that we issue whatever is public, whatever is brochures, whatever is leaflets that should be sent out and things like that.
We also have a newspaper, a newsletter. I could say it’s a newsletter, a monthly news-, newsletter, where we publish important informations for the public, for lawyers or who else is interested by the job that we are doing. This is just to summarize what my department is doing. But as you know information is large aspect. It’s, it's, it's very large.