International Criminal Court Prosecutor: ICC has No Jurisdiction Over Alleged War Crimes in Palestine (Gaza)

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court

On September 2, 2014, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, issued a statement, “The Public Deserves to know the Truth about the ICC’s Jurisdiction over Palestine.” The conclusion? The Court has no jurisdiction over any claims arising out of events in Palestine.

As the statement says, the “Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, is open to participation by states. [The] Prosecutor . . . can only investigate and prosecute crimes committed on the territory or by the nationals of states that have joined the ICC Statute or which have otherwise accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC through an ad hoc declaration to that effect pursuant to article 12-3 of the Statute.” Those requirements for ICC jurisdiction have not been satisfied. Here are the predicates for that conclusion:

  • In 2009 the Palestinian Authority sought to   accept the ICC’s jurisdiction, but the Prosecutor in April 2012 after “thorough analysis and public consultations” concluded that the Palestinian Authority’s “observer entity” status at the UN at that time meant that it could not sign up to the Rome Statute. As Palestine could not join the Rome Statute, the former Prosecutor concluded that it could not lodge an article 12-3 declaration bringing itself under the ambit of the treaty either, as it had sought to do. “  (Emphases added.)
  • On November 29, 2012, Palestine’s status was upgraded by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to “non-member observer State” through the adoption of resolution 67/19. The [Prosecutor’s] Office examined the legal implications of this development for its purposes and concluded that while this change did not retroactively validate the previously invalid 2009 declaration lodged without the necessary standing, Palestine could now join the Rome Statute.”[1]
  • “To date, [however,] the Rome Statute is not one of the treaties that Palestine has decided to accede to, nor has it lodged a new declaration [accepting the Court’s jurisdiction] following the November 2012 UNGA resolution.”
  • “It is a matter of public record that Palestinian leaders are in the process of consulting internally on whether to do so; the decision is theirs alone to make and the ICC Prosecutor cannot take this decision for them.”

If the requirements for jurisdiction over events in Palestine were established, the Prosecutor said she “will vigorously pursue those – irrespective of status or affiliation – who commit mass crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.”

Finally, the statement said, “The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC has never been in a position to open such an investigation for lack of jurisdiction. We have always, clearly and publicly, stated the reasons why this is so.” Indeed, in November 2013, the Office of the Prosecutor released its Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2013, which on pages 53-54 set forth basically the same analysis and conclusion in the just released statement.

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[1] A prior post discussed the U.N. General Assembly resolution upgrading Palestine’s status and the resulting Prosecutor’s investigation of that development on ICC jurisdiction. Earlier posts in 2011 and 2012 also touched on the jurisdictional issue regarding Palestine while another post provided an introduction to the ICC..

International Criminal Court: Recent Developments

International Criminal Court

There have been significant recent developments at the International Criminal Court (ICC) with respect to Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Sudan/Darfur, the Office of the Prosecutor, the campaign to add more States Parties to the Court’s Rome Statute and commentary on one of the Statute’s provisions.

Libya

ICC Report to Security Council. On May 16th the ICC Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, made his semi-annual and last report on the situation in Libya to the U.N. Security Council. This was discussed in a prior post.

Postponement of Surrender of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. On June 1st the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber decided that Libya may postpones its execution of the Court’s request for the surrender of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi , pending the Court’s final determination of Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the case.

Libyan Detention of ICC Personnel. On June 6th four ICC staff members arrived in Libya to meet with Mr. Gaddafi to discuss his legal representation before the ICC. They were Melinda Taylor, an attorney who works in the ICC’s office of public defense and who was appointed to act as one of two interim lawyers for Mr. Qaddafi; an interpreter, Helene Assaf, from Lebanon; and Alexander Khodakov, a former Russian diplomat, and Esteban Losilla, a Spanish lawyer, who were sent to find out whether Mr. Qaddafi wanted counsel of his own choosing. Their visit had been agreed to by Libya.

The next day (June 7th), however, the four people were detained by Libyan authorities. The ICC protested their detention and demanded their immediate release.

However, as of June14th they were still being detained. They are accused of bringing a camera disguised as a pen and suspicious documents–letters for Gaddafi from allegedly dangerous people who are supporters of the old regime and a page with drawings that looked like codes. They also had three blank pages that were signed by Mr. Gaddafi. The Libyan authorities say they will not be released until Ms. Taylor answers questions about her dealings with Mr. Gaddafi.

In addition, as of June 14th the Libyan attorney general had said he had decided that Ms. Taylor and Ms. Assaf could be held for up to 45 days awaiting the results of his inquiry into possible “threats to national security.” The other two could leave Libya, but had chosen to stay to support their colleagues. The National Transitional Council has said that it was powerless to release the four individuals or influence the investigation

On June 15th the ICC issued a press release announcing that on the 12th (with the cooperation of Libyan officials) representatives of the ICC had met with the four individuals, who said they were in good health and had been well treated. The press release also made conciliatory comments that the ICC welcomed  the Libyan assistance, that the ICC was “very keen to address any regrettable misunderstandings on either side about the delegation’s mandate and activities during its mission in Libya” and that the ICC hoped “the release of the four detained persons will take place with no delay, in the spirit of the cooperation that has existed between the Court and the Libyan authorities.”

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Thomas Lubanga. On June 13th the ICC’s Trial Chamber held its hearing on the sentencing of Mr. Lubanga, who had been found guilty of war crimes regarding child soldiers. The Prosecutor asked for a sentence of 30 years imprisonment because of the seriousness of the crimes and the presence of these aggravating factors: (1) Lubanga as the top leader bears the greatest responsibility for the actions of the UPC militia; (2) his recruitment of children included particularly cruel treatment; (3) girls were recruited as sex slaves and were daily victims of rape by commanders and soldiers; and (4) children needed to be protected against violence and injuries and for their right to education.

Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. The trial of these two gentlemen recently concluded, and the Trial Chamber’s judgment will be issued in the next several months. An interesting analysis of one of the issues raised in this case has been provided by Jennifer Easterday, a Ph.D. Researcher for the Jus Post Bellum project at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. That issue is whether the Trial Chamber may re-classify a conflict from international to non-international armed conflict or visa versa.

Callixte Mbarushimana. On May 30th, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber unanimously dismissedthe Prosecution’s appeal of the Pre-Trial Chamber’s refusal to confirm charges against Callixte Mbarushimana. The Appeals Chamber found that the Pre-Trial Chamber may evaluate ambiguities, inconsistencies, contradictions or credibility doubts in the evidence in determining whether to confirm charges under article 61 of the Rome Statute. The Appeals Chamber emphasized that “the confirmation of charges hearing exists to ensure that cases and charges go to trial only when justified by sufficient evidence” and that article 61(7) of the Rome Statute requires the Pre-Trial Chamber to evaluate whether the evidence is sufficient to establish substantial grounds to believe the person committed each of the crimes charged.

The Appeals Chamber also rejected the Prosecutor’s contention that under article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute, the contribution of an accused individual must be “significant”, because the alleged error did not materially affect the decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber. One of the three appellate judges, however, stated that the Pre-Trial Chamber erred in finding that the contribution to the crimes must be significant under article 25(3)(d) of the Rome Statute.

An NGO has observed that the decisions in the Callixte case are indicative of a more significant problem regarding gender-based crimes. It asserts that “more than half of all charges for gender-based crimes which reach the confirmation stage are not being successfully confirmed[;] no other category of charges before the ICC faces this level of dismissal and contention.”

Sylvestre Mudacumura. On May 31st the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber unanimously dismissedin limine (without examining the merits), the Prosecutor’s application for a warrant of arrest against Mr Sylvestre Mudacumura, considering that this application “fell short of the proper level of specificity” in describing the alleged crimes “for which the person’s arrest is sought”. The Chamber said the Prosecutor’s application did not provide “proper counts or any other kind of accompanying description of the specific facts underlying the crimes” and failed to “set out the specific references to the alleged crimes” as requested by the Rome Statute.

On June 13th the ICC Prosecutor submitted an amended application for an arrest warrant against Mr. Mucadumura, for five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, inhumane acts, rape, torture and persecution) and nine counts of war crimes (attack against a civilian population, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrage upon personal dignity). The Prosecution said it considers Mr. Mudacumura the Supreme Commander of the FDLR-FOCA, one of the most active militias in the Kivu Provinces of the DRC, and is allegedly responsible for a campaign of violence targeting civilians in these provinces.

Kenya

On May 24th, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber unanimously rejected challenges to the ICC’s jurisdiction in the two Kenyan cases. It said that the interpretation and existence of an ‘organizational policy’ for certain crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute relate to the substantive merits of these cases, not whether the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction. Therefore, the Chamber found that the ICC has subject-matter jurisdiction over the alleged crimes.

Sudan/Darfur

On June   the ICC Prosecutor reported on the situation in Sudan/Darfur to the U.N. Security Council. This was discussed in a prior post.

New Chief Prosecutor

ICC Prosecutor Basouda

On June 15th, Fatou Bousouda, the ICC’s new Chief Prosecutor, officially took office. In her acceptance of this position, she said she was “humbled” by her appointment, and promised to continue pursuing all cases that fall under the court’s jurisdiction. Other major  points in her speech were the following:

  • “The one thing which every one of you can rest assured of is that I will be the Prosecutor of all the 121 States Parties, acting in full independence and impartiality. Justice, real justice, is not a pick‐and‐choose system. To be effective, to be just and to be a real deterrent, the Office of the Prosecutor’s activities and decisions will continue to be based solely on the law and the evidence.”
  • “Thanks to the tireless efforts and the commitment of Luis Moreno‐Ocampo, [her predecessor, there is now] . . .  a well‐respected and sound functioning Office [of the Prosecutor], with almost 300 staff from 80 countries, 7 situations under investigation, 14 cases before the Chambers, 7 preliminary examinations and one verdict.”
  • “As I speak, massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur (Sudan); Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army’s acts of violence continue unabated in central Africa. . . . In total, 11 arrest warrants remain outstanding. Nothing short of arresting all those against whom warrants have been issued will ensure that justice is done for millions of victims of . . . [their] crimes. . . .”

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and a former ICC Deputy Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, has emphasized the urgent need for the new ICC Chief Prosecutor to have the support of states in arresting the Court’s fugitives. He stressed the need for universal acceptance of the ICC as one way to combat the concern about its current exclusive concentration on African situations. Another of his suggestions for the new ICC Chief Prosecutor was doing more  to strengthen national court systems that are capable of handling the crimes that are within the ICC’s jurisdiction under the principle of complementarity.

Because the ICC cannot respond to atrocities the world over, Brammertz says, the U.N. should use the work of international fact-finding and investigatory commissions as bases “for choosing the right follow-up action, whether technical help to the affected country, setting up hybrid national/international structures, or referring the situation to the ICC.”  There also needs to be standard procedures for collecting and storing evidence or conducting interviews as well as a permanent operational infrastructure for such commissions.

A columnist for London’s Guardian newspaper suggested the following priorities for the new Prosecutor:

  1. Rebuild ICC relations with Africa. All of the Court’s active investigations and prosecutions come from Africa, and many Africans believe the Court is anti-African. Bensouda, herself an African, should consult more frequently with the African Union and work to restore confidence in the Court.
  2. Prosecute cases in other regions. She should continue pending preliminary _– into Columbia, Afghanistan, Georgia, Honduras and North Korea and seek permission to start an investigation of Syria. She also should work to increase the number of Arab nations that are States Parties.
  3. Restore transparency to the internal and external practices of the ICC. She should create clear and public processes for launching investigations and issuing arrest warrants, particularly in cases where she acts proprio motu – exercising her discretion to launch investigations of her own initiative.
  4. Improve witness protection and investigatory techniques.
  5. Improve investigatory techniques. The ICC needs to avoid over-reliance on NGOs that are not trained in interrogation and evidence gathering.

ICC States Parties

The ICC is engaged in a campaign for universal adoption of its Rome Statute to persuade the remaining 72 U.N. Members that are not States Parties to join the 121 that already have done so. This campaign, it has been suggested, could be strengthened by using the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process to press those 72 members on the subject.

As previously noted, the U.S. in the Obama Administration is now a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and its participation is credited with helping to increase international scrutiny of human rights abusers.

Other

Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute,  the ICC’s Prosecutor may, in certain circumstances, decline to press charges “in the interests of justice,” and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has issued a policy paper on this provision.

Linda M. Keller, Associate Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, recently has explored an ongoing debate over whether the OTP should adopt ex ante guidelines for prosecutorial discretion in order to increase transparency and legitimacy, especially with respect to the “interests of justice” provision. She compared this provision of the Rome Statute with a similar provision in New York and concluded that (1) “requiring a written rationale regarding exercise of discretion does not necessarily yield thorough or convincing explanations, undermining arguments that the legitimacy of the ICC will be enhanced by public explanations of prosecutorial discretion; ” (2)  “such explanations may backfire when the balancing of nebulous factors leads to apparently inconsistent or arbitrary reasoning and results, which may undercut the credibility of the decision-maker;” and (3) “the lack of a guiding theory to drive the interpretation of ambiguous criteria can lead to more confusion than clarity when there is no agreement on the theoretical justifications for prosecution.”

Dr. Kamari Maxine Clarke, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University and a Research Associate at its Law School, also has written about the “interests of justice” provision in May 18 and 19 posts.

International Criminal Court: New ICC Prosecutor Promises To Work To End Impunity for Worst Human Rights Violators

Fatou Bensouda

 

On December 12th the International  Criminal Court’s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) officially elected by acclamation Ms. Fatou Bensouda as the new Prosecutor of the Court for a period of nine years starting next June.[1]

Ms. Bensouda endorsed “the legal mandate entrusted to the Prosecutor to end impunity for those responsible for the gravest offenses, bringing justice to their victims, and preventing future crimes.” She also pledged to continue working in close cooperation with the other organs of the Court, the ASP and civil society and to do so in a consistent, predictable and transparent manner.

The day after her election, she told the ASP that she would strengthen efforts to bring to justice perpetrators of sexual and gender crimes. Too often, she said, such crimes go unreported and unpunished and the victims trivialized, denigrated, threatened and silenced.[2]

The election of Ms. Bensouda was applauded by a close observer of the Court: “Her wealth of experience, her talent and commitment to justice, her tremendous personal charisma and gravitas and her inclusive and collaborative working style” should produce an effective tenure as the Prosecutor.[3]

Although the U.S. is not a party to the Court’s Rome Statute, U.S. representatives are attending the New York meeting of the ASP. At a side event, U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp described extensive U.S. efforts to ensure justice for victims by ensuring protection for witnesses. He also said the U.S. is involved in all of the situations now under investigation by the Court.[4]


[1] ICC Press Release, The Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute opens its tenth session (Dec. 14, 2011); Bensouda, Election Speech (Dec. 12, 2011). See Post: International Criminal Court: New States Parties, Judges and Prosecutor (Nov. 22, 2011); Comment [to same post]: List of Possible New ICC Prosecutor Is Narrowed to Two People (Nov. 28, 2011); ); Comment [to same post]:Consensus on New Prosecutor (Dec. 1, 2011).

[2] Lederer, Next ICC Prosecutor warns against sex crimes, Assoc. Press (Dec. 13, 2011).

[3]  Sadat, View from New York: ICC ASP session, IntLawGrrls (Dec. 13, 2011).

[4]  AMICC, US Ambassador Rapp Touts American Cooperation with ICC at ASP in New York (Dec. 14, 2011), http://amicc.blogspot.com.

 

 

International Criminal Court: New States Parties, Judges and Prosecutor

By the end of this year the International Criminal Court (ICC) will have at least five new States Parties to its Rome Statute, six new judges and a new Prosecutor.

New States Parties. So far this year two additional African states (Tunisia and Cape Verde), two additional Asian states (Maldives and Philippines) and one Latin American/Caribbean state (Grenada) have joined the ICC.[1] The following shows the current geographical makeup of the States Parties to the ICC’s Rome Statute:

 ICC States Parties?

  Yes No Total
Africa[2]    33 14   47
Asia[3]    17 35   52
Europe[4]    40   4   44
Latin America/Caribbean[5]    26   7   33
Middle East[6]      2 13   15
North America[7]      1   1     2
TOTAL[8] 119 74 193

 New Judges. This December at a meeting at the U.N. the States Parties will elect six new judges of the Court. The statutory criteria for these positions are the following:[9]

  • High moral character;
  • Impartiality;
  • Integrity;
  • Possessing the qualifications required by their States for appointment to their highest judicial offices;
  • Excellent knowledge of the Court’s two “working languages” (English and French) and fluency in at least one of these languages;
  • Established competency in either (a) “criminal law and procedure, and the necessary relevant experience, whether as judge, prosecutor, advocate or in similar capacity, in criminal proceedings” (the List A candidates) or (b) “relevant areas of international law such as international humanitarian law and the law of human rights, and extensive experience in a professional legal capacity which is of relevance to the judicial work of the Court” (the List B candidates);[10] and
  • At least some of the judges need to have “legal expertise on specific issues, including, but not limited to, violence against women or children.”

Nineteen individuals have been nominated for these positions; 16 were the List A candidates while 3 were List B. All of them were evaluated by the Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections which found that three of the 16 List A candidates were unqualified for lack of criminal law experience while one of the three List B candidates was unqualified for lack of experience in humanitarian law or human rights.[11] The following 15 were found to be qualified:

List A


1. BANKOLE THOMPSON, Rosolu John (Sierra Leone)
2. BOOLELL, Vinod (Mauritius)
3. BRIA, Modeste-Martineau (Central African Republic)
4. CARMONA, Anthony Thomas Acquinas (Trinidad and Tobago)
5. CATHALA, Bruno (France)
6. CIFUENTES MUÑOZ, Eduardo (Colombia)
7. EBOE-OSUJI, Chile (Nigeria)
8. FREMR, Robert (Czech Republic)
9. HERRERA CARBUCCIA, Olga Venecia (Dominican Republic)
10. KAM, Gberdao Gustave (Burkina Faso)
11. MINDUA, Antoine Kesia-Mbe (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
12. MORRISON, Howard (United Kingdom)
13. NOUHOU, Hamani Mounkaila (Niger)

List B


1. CZAPLIŃSKI, Wladyslaw (Poland)
2. DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO, Miriam (Philippines)

Observers have criticized these candidates as lacking substantial international reputations of excellence.[12]

The Independent Panel also made suggestions for improving the Court’s judicial selection process. Nominating governments should provide a description of their nomination process and should be promptly notified of any missing information in the nomination papers. The Assembly of States Parties (ASP) should advise nominating governments whether nominees may continue professional activities that might create conflicts of interest if they are elected. The ASP also should consider (i) what to do if there are two judges from the same country as a result of some current judges continuing in office past the term to complete court business; (ii) whether there should be a practice of not nominating candidates who would exceed a certain age or who were not in good health if they were to serve their full nine-year term; (iii) establishing a code of conduct for candidates; and (iv) establishing an advisory committee on judicial nominations.[13]

New Prosecutor. This December at a meeting at the U.N. the States Parties will elect by consensus a new Prosecutor of the Court, and consensus is expected to be reached by November 28th. Four individuals have been recommended for this position by the Search Committee, and the New York Times reports that the favorite is Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, the current Deputy Prosecutor for the Court. She clearly has the most extensive and most recent experience in the Office of the Prosecutor, a very valuable credential.[14] She also is an African, and there is a lot of pressure from the African States Parties to select an African for this position since all of the initial investigations and prosecutions come from Africa. The fact that she is a woman is also seen by many as important.[15]


[1] ICC, States Parties to the Rome Statute, www2.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ASP/states+parties.

[2] The principal African states that are notICC members are Algeria, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. (Compare id. with U.N., List of Member States of United Nations,http://www.un.org/en/members/index.shtml.

[3] The principal Asian states that are not ICC members are China, Democratic Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet Nam. Id.

[4] The principal European states that are not ICC members are Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Id.

[5]  The principal Latin American and Caribbean states that are not ICC members are Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.  Id.

[6]  The only Middle Eastern states that are ICC members are Cyprus and Jordan.  Id.

[7]  Canada is the only North American state that is an ICC member. The U.S.A. is the only North American state that is not an ICC member.  Id.

[8]  There are 192 members of the U.N., and a non-member of the U.N. (Cook Islands) is an ICC State Party. Thus, the total number of states in the table is 193. Id.

[9] Rome Statute, Arts. 36(3), 38(8)(b), 50(2); Post: International Criminal Court: Basics of Its Upcoming Judicial Election (June 23, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Required and Recommended Qualifications for ICC Judges (June 24, 2011).

[10] List A judges are supposed to be at least nine in number; the List B judges, at least five. (Rome Statute, Art. 36(5).) All six of the retiring judges came from the A List. Of the six to be elected this December at least two must come from the A List while no one has to be from the B List. (See Post: The International Criminal Court: Basics of Its Upcoming Judicial Elections (June 23, 2011).)

[11] ICC, Election of six judges–December 2011 (Oct. 14, 2011), www2.icccpi.int/Menus/ASP/Elections /Judges/ 2011/2011.htm; Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections, Report on International Criminal Court Judicial Nominations 2011 (Oct. 26, 2011), http://www.iccindependentpanel.org/sites/default/ files/ Independent%20Panel%20on%20ICC%20Judicial%20Elections%20-%20Report%2026%20October%202011.pdf [Independent Panel Report]; Van Schaack, Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections, IntLawGrrls (Nov. 1, 2011);

[12] Binham, The Hague struggles to find judges, Fin. Times (Sept. 14, 2011); Amann, How to deepen shallow ICC judges pool, IntLawGrrls (Sept. 19, 2011).

[13] Independent Panel Report.

[14] Post: International Criminal Court: Its Upcoming Prosecutor Election (June 25, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Four People Recommended for Election as ICC Prosecutor (Oct. 25, 2011). Mrs. Bensouda recently made a presentation about lessons learned in the ICC’s first trial. (Bensouda, Update on Trials and the Closing of the First Case (Oct. 5, 2011), www2.icc-cpi.int/nr/exeres/2386f5cb-b2a5-45dc-b66f-17e762f77b1f.htm; Post: International Criminal Court: Recent Developments in Other ICC Investigations and Cases (Nov. 17, 2011).) Mrs. Bensouda is now in Libya with the Prosecutor to discuss with Libyan officials the sensitive subject of where the two remaining ICC Libyan suspects will be tried. (Comment: ICC Prosecutor and Deputy Prosecutor in Libya To Discuss Future Trials (Nov. 22, 2011).)

[15] Simons, The Hague: Four Prosecutor Finalists, N.Y. Times (Oct. 26, 2011); Amann, ICC consensus this week?, IntLawGrrls (Nov. 20, 2011).

International Criminal Court: Recent Developments in Other ICC Investigations and Cases

Recent developments in the ICC’s Libyan investigation and cases have been examined.[1] There also have been interesting developments in four of the other situations under investigation by the ICC: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC or Congo), Uganda, Darfur (Sudan), and the Ivory Coast.

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda

Congo. The evidence and arguments in the ICC’s first case to go to trial are over, and the decision of the Trial Chamber is expected early in 2012.[2] The ICC’s Deputy Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, recently reflected on the lessons of this case for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).[3]

  • Foremost was implementation of  the prosecution’s conceded obligation to disclose to the defense (a) incriminating evidence to be used by the prosecution; (b) evidence that is potentially exonerating or may affect the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence; and (c) evidence that is material to the preparation of the defense. Complications arose in this case because of the prosecution’s countervailing duty of confidentiality towards certain witnesses, and the Appeals Chamber decided that the Court had to respect such confidentiality agreements. Thereafter protective procedures were developed to provide such information to the defense despite such agreements.
  • Contrary to the practice of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and U.S. courts, the ICC has held that the parties and counsel cannot meet with their witnesses in advance to discuss their anticipated testimony. Thus, what is referred to internationally as “witness proofing” is prohibited.
  • Some witnesses, especially former child soldiers, had been admitted into the Court’s witness protection program, and the Trial Chamber allowed them to testify with voice and face distortion and pseudonyms to protect their identity from the public while providing that information to the defense.[4]
  • Some other witnesses provided testimony via video link from the DRC without any technical problems.
  • The prosecution uses confidential intermediaries in the field, in the DRC in this case, to facilitate contact with potential witnesses and other sources of information. In this case, the defense alleged that some intermediaries were suggesting false testimony be given, and problems arose over the Trial Chamber’s order for disclosure of the identity of the intermediaries before protection had been provided to them.

The DRC’s presidential and parliamentary elections will be on November 28th, and reports of pre-election violence prompted the ICC’s OTP to issue a public statement that it was closely monitoring the situation and would investigate and prosecute any crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction that were committed.[5]

Joseph Kony
President Al Bashir

Uganda. The ICC has issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and three other top members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but they all are at large.[6] In October President Obama ordered the deployment of 100 U.S. armed military advisors to central Africa to assist local forces in combating the LRA. The President did so pursuant to the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. If the U.S. forces assisted in the arrest of any of these top LRA leaders, they would be turned over to the ICC.[7]

Sudan (Darfur). The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir, who is the current head of state and who is still at large.[8] Recently Bashir was in Malawi and was not arrested even though Malawi as an ICC State Party had an obligation to do so. As a result, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber requested Malawi to submit observations on its failure to arrest Bashir.[9]

Ivory Coast. In early October the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber authorized the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation of the situation in the Ivory Coast.[10] Later that same month the Prosecutor visited the country to meet with government officials, members of the Opposition, victims and the country’s Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission.[11]


[1] Post: International Criminal Court: Recent Developments in the ICC’s Libyan Investigation and Cases (Nov. 16, 2011).

[2] Post: International Criminal Court: ICC’s First Trial To End This Week (Aug. 24, 2011).

[3] Bensouda, Update on Trials and the Closing of the First Case (Oct. 5, 2011), www2.icc-cpi.int/nr/exeres/2386f5cb-b2a5-45dc-b66f-17e762f77b1f.htm.

[4] Post: International Criminal Court: Protection of Witnesses (Aug. 19, 2001).

[5] ICC, ICC Prosecutor: we are closely monitoring the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Nov. 11, 2011).

[6] Post: International Criminal Court’s Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011); ICC, Situations and Cases, www2.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Situations+and+Cases.

[7] Shanker & Gladstone, Armed U.S. Advisers to Help Fight African Renegade Group, N.Y. Times (Oct. 14, 2011); Wikisource, Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki; U.S. White House, Statement by the President on the Signing of the Lord’s ResistanceArmy Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (May 24, 2010), http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-president-signing-Lords-resistance-army-disarmament-and-northern-uganda-r.

[8]  Post: International Criminal Court’s Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: ICC Prosecutor Updates the U.N. Security Council on Sudan (Darfur) (June 17, 2011); International Criminal Justice: Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Serbia Developments (July 4, 2011).

[9] ICC Press Release, Pre-Trial Chamber I requests observations from Malawi on the enforcement of warrants of arrest against Omar Al Bashir (Oct. 19, 2011).

[10] Post: International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast (May 23, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Investigation of Ivory Coast Situation Is Authorized (Oct. 3, 2011).

[11] ICC, Statement by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on official visit to Cote d’Ivoire, October 15-16 (Oct. 14, 2011).