Friday, August 26, 2011

UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie Explains the Importance of the Lubanga Trial, the ICC's First, as it Concludes

Angelina Jolie attended the closing arguments of the ICC's first case, The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, on August 25-26. Lubanga is charged with enlisting and abusing child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A verdict is expected by early next year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #41

This past week there has been much media excitement surrounding ICC cases and activities. Earlier this week numerous media sources reported that Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, had been arrested by Libya's rebel forces; however, this later turned out to be untrue. Reports surfaced that the ICC confirmed the arrest, but an ICC representative has subsequently refuted their validity. Despite the mix-up, the ICC Prosecutor took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of carrying out the arrest warrants against the three indicted Libyan leaders. In the midst of calls to action regarding the situation in Syria, Ocampo also issued a statement reminding the international community that the ICC currently lacks jurisdiction to commence investigations in Syria. Without Syria becoming a member state or a UN Security Council referral, the ICC is unable to commence a probe. In other news, preparations for the first set of Kenya confirmation of charges hearings, set for September 1, have begun. Lawyers for prospective defendants Ruto, Kosgey and Sang have made statements that they are largely ready for the hearings. The ICC Prosecutor has also made preparations, and has requested 15 hours for the hearings, which is small compared to the approximately 40 hours that the proceedings will take. The ICC judges are also preparing for the hearings, having requested a timeline from the defense and specified that the proceedings should end by September 12 in order to stay on schedule. This week the Lubanga trial, the ICC's first, finally concluded its closing arguments. The ICC judges will now deliberate and come to a judgement, expected to be released in early 2012. Yesterday Grenada became the newest nation to be welcomed as a state party by the ICC. The Rome Statute entered into force in the nation on August 1, but the President of the Court met with Grenada's Ambassador yesterday to officially welcome it. Today the Senate of the Philippines also approved the Rome Statute, officially concurring with the President that the Philippines should become a state party to the ICC. Photo credit: ABC News.

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's Next for Justice in Libya? The Gaddafis, the ICC and how the US Can Help

The situation in Libya is changing quickly and gains by Libyan rebels led to reports - now refuted - of the arrest of one of suspects wanted by the ICC, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. Media reports and a press release from the ICC Prosecutor indicated that he has asked the Transitional National Council (TNC) to surrender this suspect, a son of Col. Muammar Gaddafi and allegedly Libya's de facto prime minister, to the Court. It is unclearwhether the TNC would do so if the suspect were in custody.

There are already questions arising about whether justice should be done in Libya or in The Hague. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1970, which referred the Libya situation to the Court, Libyan authorities are obligated to cooperate with the ICC. If the TNC takes control of Libya, as is possible in the near future, that obligation would fall to the TNC. If it wished to try Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi or any other ICC suspect, it could claim that it is carrying out judicial proceedings against them. It would be up to the ICC judges to determine whether these proceedings were legitimate and genuine, thus satisfying the principle of complementarity enshrined in the Rome Statute. The UN Security Council could also adopt a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter directing the ICC to suspend proceedings for renewable periods of 12 months, though this scenario seems unlikely at this time.

The United States could play an important role in urging the relevant officials to transfer any Libyan suspects to the ICC. While President Obama did not mention the ICC in his statement released earlier today, he did indicate that "we will continue to work with our allies and partners in the international community to protect the people of Libya, and to support a peaceful transition to democracy." The unanimous referral of the Libya situation to the ICC by the Security Council, including the United States, was an important action by the international community to protect the people of Libya and one which the US has continued to support since the referral.

Given the recent events, now is an excellent opportunity to use AMICC's recent action alert in your advocacy to urge President Obama to assist the ICC arrest Col. Gaddafi and the Libya suspects. Hearing from the American supporters of the ICC will help President Obama understand the importance of international justice for the serious alleged crimes in Libya and to build international support for ensuring that no suspects escape justice.

AMICC will frequently post updates here about the situation as it unfolds, as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Update on upcoming confirmation of charges hearings for the Kenya case

ICC in the Media, Update #40

This week the media has focused almost exclusively on the Kenya post-election violence case. Last week Kenya suspects Sang, Ruto and Kosgey applied to the ICC to have their confirmation of charges hearings delayed from September 1 to mid-October. However, this application was recently rejected by Pre-Trial Chamber II, who decided that the hearings should start on time. The counsel of the three suspects have reportedly said that they will appeal the decision, but will be ready to commence the hearings on time if they lose. Speaking in Nairobi last week, the ICC Spokesperson emphasized that the Kenya suspects are free to waive their right to attend the hearings. This is possible because the suspects have appeared voluntarily, not due to arrest warrants. The following video provides an overview of the confirmation process, including an explanation by ICC Spokesperson Fadi El Abdallah.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #39

This week the ICC has enjoyed relatively little media attention, but some important stories were picked up by media outlets. For instance, this week President Bashir of Sudan, wanted by the ICC on numerous charges, visited Chad to attend the swearing in ceremony of President Deby. Chad is a state party to the ICC, having ratified the Rome Statute in 2006. The visit received criticism from the European Union and other international parties, who urged Chad to arrest Bashir. In other news, the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber II reportedly reached a decision this week regarding the number of witnesses Kenya election violence suspects may employ during their confirmation hearing. The judges limited the number of witnesses to two for each suspect, saying the number should be limited because the hearings are meant to establish there is a case, not prove the suspects' innocence. Although ICC Prosecutor Ocampo will rely solely on documented evidence during the confirmations, reportedly the victims of violence are eager to participate in the proceedings to counter the case presented by the six suspects. Last week ICC President Judge Song visited Mozambique to raise awareness about the work of the ICC and to encourage the state to join the Court. In other news, it has been reported that there is a conflict between the government and civil society over the scope of the ICC's investigation in the Ivory Coast. The government wishes the ICC to only look at crimes committed in the last six months, but civil society wants the ICC to look further back into the country's history. The ICC has not made a statement regarding its view of the investigation's timeframe. Yesterday reportedly Russia applied to the ICC over the Georgia conflict. The ICC has yet to make a statement on the matter. Photo credit: The Sudan Tribune.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #38

Last week in the Kenya situation we reported that the Kenyan government had begun interviewing the "Ocampo six" in an effort to appeal the admissibility of the election violence case at the ICC. This week that effort was reportedly quelled. In a recent ruling the ICC judges unanimously rejected consideration of the new evidence because the investigations were not commenced before the trials or at the time of the admissibility hearing. The judges based this decision on prior ICC jurisprudence from the ongoing Katanga case. Also in the Kenya case, suspects Ruto, Sang and Kosgey are awaiting a green light from the ICC's Victims and Witnesses Unit to be able to use six witnesses in their upcoming trial. The approval must be received before their confirmation of charges hearing scheduled for September 1. And finally, this week Kenya reportedly received its national budget for witness protection. The 300 million Kenya shilling budget falls short of the projected amount, and officials have reportedly announced that it will not leave room for any protection of ICC prosecution witnesses. Last week in the Bemba case we reported that Jean-Pierre Bemba has been selected as a presidential hopeful for the MLC party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This announcement has raised criticism and questions of whether he would be able to run as the leader of the DRC, both legally and logistically, from his current residence in a cell at the Hague. This week the President of the Ivory Coast spoke out in support of the ICC's investigation into the country's election violence last year in an attempt to secure justice. The leader acknowledged the country's desire to seek justice domestically, but said that the government will seek help from the ICC in prosecuting the most serious crimes. This week the Coalition for the International Criminal Court reportedly sent a letter to the President of Nepal urging the nation to take steps to ratify the Rome Statute. In 2006 Nepal's legislature endorsed a proposal to become a member state to the Court, but this commitment was not subsequently achieved. The Philippines are in the process of ratifying the Rome Statute, with the President ratifying the treaty on May 6. However, the nation's domestic laws require endorsement from the Senate before the international agreement can come into effect, so this week the Phillipines' foreign affairs Secretary has urged the Senate to do so. Photo credit: Daily Nation.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Experience, Region, and Gender All Factors in Upcoming ICC Elections

ICC Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensaouda

The nominations for the December 2011 election for ICC judges are coming in, and thus far ICC States Parties have nominated ten individuals for the six seats. Because there are representation requirements imposed by the ICC's governing treaty for three different categories - expertise and experience, gender, and region - most of the nominations made so far are "List A" candidates with criminal law expertise and experience; men; and from Africa and Europe:

1. BANKOLE THOMPSON, Rosolu John (Sierra Leone)
2. BOOLELL, Vinod (Mauritius)
3. CARMONA, Anthony Thomas Aquinas (Trinidad and Tobago)
4. CATHALA, Bruno (France)
5. CZAPLIŃSKI, Władysław (Poland)
6. EBOE-OSUJI, Chile (Nigeria)
7. FREMR, Robert (Czech Republic)
8. KAM, Gberdao Gustave (Burkina Faso)
9. MINDUA, Antoine Kesia-Mbe (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
10. MORRISON, Howard (United Kingdom)

To provide context on the gender requirements, there will be eight female and four male judges continuing their service after this election (see p. 12).

Some of the many female judges at the ICC. Left to right: Judge Christine van den Wyngaert, Judge Fumiko Saiga, Judge Cuno Tarfusser, Judge Joyce Aluoch and Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng © ICC-CPI

The Court's Assembly of States Parties (ASP) will also be electing a new ICC Prosecutor, a new ASP president, and new members of the Committee on Budget and Finance. There will not, however, be a complete turnover in professional staff, as suggested here; the professional staff provide support and continuity to the officials who are elected and subject to term limits.

The nominations for judicial elections will be open through September 2, subject to extensions if there are not nominations for two more Latin American and Caribbean candidates.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Human Rights Watch's Richard Dicker on Enforcing the ICC Arrest Warrant for Gaddafi

In an Op-Ed published in the International Herald Tribune, the global edition of the New York Times, Human Rights Watch's Richard Dicker, a member of AMICC's Steering Committee, argues that "After setting the wheels of justice in motion, all Security Council members — and these three countries in particular — should be reaffirming the message that impunity is no longer an option, instead of proffering a get out of jail free card to end a military stalemate... These warrants were an important step toward providing justice for the victims of the serious crimes in Libya.