Monday, January 09, 2012

ICC in the Media, Update #56

Since the close of 2011 several media outlets have reflected back on the activities of the International Criminal Court over the year. Some have considered it a "banner year" for the Court. It included many important events including the Security Council referral for the situation in Libya, the confirmation hearings for the "Ocampo six", the transfer of the first former head of state to the Court, the close of the ICC's first trial, the election of a new prosecutor, and much more. There is no doubt 2011 was a year of great growth and change for the ICC.

The first week in 2012 has been filled with International Criminal Court news. Following up on our last update, the Netherlands has now released former ICC indictee Callixte Mbarushimana from custody, despite the prosecution's efforts to prevent it. Sources report that he has returned to his home in Paris. Mr. Mbarushimana is the first arrestee to be released from charges at the Court. In the Kenya case, the judges are currently in the process of scheduling the release of their decision on whether to confirm the Kenya suspects' charges. The deadline for its release as set out by the schedule in the Rome Statute is January 20, 2012. Some media sources reportedly have learned that the decision will be released on January 16, but this has not been confirmed. The looming release has sparked discussions on whether, if the charges are confirmed, William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta will be able or should be able to run for President of Kenya in 2012. In the new Ivory Coast case, former President Gbagbo has requested legal aid to pay for his defense. Reportedly on the Saturday the ICC said that Gbagbo will receive interim legal aid while his financial situation is being assessed. In the situation in Sudan, two Darfur rebels have asked for the ICC to halt their cases because they are unable to visit Sudan to interview witnesses, which they view as essential for mounting their defense. The ICC has not yet responded to this request. This week President Bashir, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, visited Libya. The visit angered numerous human rights groups, who said the visit brought into question the new Libya regime's commitment to human rights and justice. While there reportedly Bashir offered his assistance in disbanding the persisting militia groups across Libya.

Also in the Sudan case, Sudan's Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Mohammed Hussein has reportedly shrugged off the possibility that he will be charged with crimes at the ICC. The Prosecutor applied for his arrest to the Court's judges earlier in December on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo case, an Amsterdam court recently ruled that two Congolese ICC witnesses are permitted to apply for asylum in the Netherlands. The two had previously expressed fear for their safety if returned to the DRC. The closing arguments in DRC cases against Katanga and Chui have been scheduled for May 15 of this year. The Jean-Pierre Bemba case is set to resume from winter recess on January 16, and the prosecution is expected to finish presentation of its case in February. Photo credits: Voice of America and BBC News.

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