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Posts Tagged ‘Hague’

International Criminal Court and the Prosecution saga: No witnesses, no case against William Ruto, Joshua Sang and Uhuru Kenyatta

Posted by African Press International on September 13, 2013

The Kenya case by ICC prosecutor against Mr Ruto and Mr sang will soon collapse if the prosecution does not change tact and be serious with whatever evidence they have.

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At the International Criminal Court: Kenyan leaders present to give Ruto and Sang Moral support

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2013

Kenyan leaders were present in the Hague when the ICC case commenced against the Deputy President William Ruto and Mr Joshua Arap Sang on the 10th of September. The case has however been adjourned to the 17th of september because the prosecution failed to have their first witnesses ready for the court.

Kenya Case at the ICC – Honourable MP Aden Duale Speaks

Kenyan leaders at the ICC to give moral support to the accused persons

Kenyan leaders at the ICC to give moral support to the accused persons

Lawyer for Mr William Ruto, Mr Karim Khan addressing the Press

The Hague: Kenya member of Parliament addressing the media

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ICC Kenya Case trial starts: Opening Statements on the 10th and 11th of September 2013

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2013

The Judge speaks: – The Plea taking by the accused persons

Prosecutor Part 1

Prosecutor Part 2

Karim Khan For Mr. William Ruto – Part 1

Karim Khan For Mr. William Ruto – Part 2

Nderitu: Legal representative For the Victims:

Katwa Kigen For Mr. Joshua Arap Sang – :Part 1


Katwa Kigen For Mr. Joshua Arap Sang – Part 2

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ICC: Kenya case adjourned due to failure to produce prosecution witnesses

Posted by African Press International on September 11, 2013

Deputy President William Ruto‘s and Joshua Sang‘s case adjourned today due to lack of witnesses. The court was not happy but took the decision because there was no other way.

This sends a message that the prosecution has witnesses that they do not rely on. This may soon give the defence ammunition to puncture the prosecution’s case. Hon Ruto was expected to travel back to Kenya and will avail himself next Tuesday the 17 September to the court.

 

Related story:

ICC: Kenyans may soon see the colapse of Ruto and Sang’s case – Prosecution faced with disaster for lack of witnesses this week

 

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ICC: Kenyans may soon see the colapse of Ruto and Sang’s case – Prosecution faced with disaster for lack of witnesses this week

Posted by African Press International on September 10, 2013

DRAMA AT THE ICC, as the  case against Deputy President of Kenya William Ruto and Joshua Sang: Fatou Bensouda seeks adjournment for a week due to lack of witnesses:

Today the 10th of September, the case against Deputy President William Ruto opened in the Hague.

Failure by prosecution witnesses lined up for this week to turn up forces the chest-thumbing prosecutor to request the court for one week adjournment.

After opening statements by the prosecution, the Victim’s lawyer and the Defence, the prosecutor asked the court for adjournment until next Tuesday the 17th September because she lacks witnesses. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the court that she was not able to proceed due to lack of witnesses for now. She told the court that she hopes by next Tuesday she will be able to get some witnesses.

This is very surprising and a shock to many observers who say the prosecution is playing a loosing game. How can they not have even one witness to start with and they have known all along that the case was to start today?.

The Defence lawyer for Ruto, Mr Karim Khan hammered the prosecution accusing the office of laxity during the investigation, saying they only relied on NGOs and their manufactured reports instead of doing their own investigation..

Kenyans who gave a warm sent off to Ruto yesterday Monday at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi when he flew to the Hague where he was expected to stay for 3 weeks will be shocked to see him back home after only two nights in the Hague.

The prosecution had better accept that the case is very weak, collapsing and do the honourable thing – to withdraw the charges against the Kenyans.

Tomorrow Wednesday, the case will resume at 09.30 am European Time and will adjourn at 14.00, until Tuesday next week, to give time to the prosecutor to look for witnesses.

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ICC held groundbreaking ceremony for Permanent Premises construction in April

Posted by African Press International on September 1, 2013

 ICC-ASP-20130416-PR898

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the ICC’s new premises on 16 April 2013, from left to right: the Mayor of The Hague, Mr Jozias Johannes van Aartsen; the ASP Vice-President, Ambassador Markus Börlin; the ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song; and the SecrAt the groundbreaking ceremony for the ICC’s new premises on 16 April 2013, from left to right: the Mayor of The Hague, Mr Jozias Johannes van Aartsen; the ASP Vice-President, Ambassador Markus Börlin; the ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song; and the Secretary-General of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Renée Jones-Bos © ICC-CPI
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On Tuesday, 16 April 2013, the International Criminal Court (ICC) held a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction work on the Court’s Permanent Premises in The Hague (The Netherlands). Construction will be completed towards the end of 2015, when the premises will be ready for use.

The ceremony was organised by the project’s Oversight Committee, on behalf of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP). The groundbreaking was conducted by four official guests: the ASP Vice-President, Ambassador Markus Börlin; the ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song; the Mayor of The Hague, Mr Jozias Johannes van Aartsen; and the Secretary-General of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Renée Jones-Bos.

Introducing the ceremony, the Chair of the Oversight Committee, Mr. Roberto Bellelli, stated that “this is a point of no return on the path of international criminal justice […] the transition […] to a permanent architecture in international relations [whose] roots […] are being excavated in a visible and permanent structure in the ground of The Hague, in a mutually reinforcing relationship of Peace and Justice between this City and the ICC.”

“In just over two years, the ICC will be housed in an iconic group of buildings that will leave visitors with a strong image of the Court: that of an august institution established to combat impunity by imparting justice in accordance with the rule of law”, said ASP Vice-President Ambassador Börlin.

“An institution of global significance deserves a world class premises. That, I am pleased to say, is what we are building here”, stated ICC President Song.

“This summer we will be celebrating the centenary of the Peace Palace, the symbol of The Hague as the International City of Peace and Justice. Almost a century after the Peace Palace opened its doors, work begins on building what has been described as ‘the Peace Palace of the 21st century’: the International Criminal Court”, noted the Mayor of The Hague, Mr van Aartsen.

“The new ICC-building will become a landmark in the Netherlands and we are proud to have it on our territory. Our commitment with the ICC is consistent with a vocation to promote international law that is deeply rooted in Dutch history and which is reflected in the Dutch Constitution, said the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Jones-Bos.

 For more photos from this event, please click here​.

About the Permanent Premises

The new Court will be situated between the natural rolling dune landscape and the edge of The Hague on the site where the Alexanderkazerne (Alexander Barracks) were located on the van Alkemadelaan/Oude Waalsdorperweg.

The chosen site is an ideal location, since it is situated close to the ICC Detention Centre and to major roads. The site is part of the International Zone of The Hague which also contains the Peace Palace, Europol, ICTY, OPCW and The Hague World Forum.

The host state (The Netherlands) made the site available free of charge. The project is funded by the 122 States Parties that have ratified the Rome Statute, through a mixture of one-time payments or via the utilisation of a loan offered by the host state. In addition, the host state organised and financed the architectural design competition, which started at the end of 2008.

In 2010 the Danish firm schmidt hammer lassen was selected to design the new premises, as its design met all the ICC’s criteria, including design quality, sustainability, functionality and cost. In October 2012 the tendering procedure for the General Contractor was completed and the combination Visser & Smit Bouw and Boele & van Eesteren (“Courtys”) was selected for the realisation of the ICC’s Permanent Premises.

About the ICC

The International Criminal Court is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

 

Source:ICC

 

 

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Justice for a Lawless World?

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2013

NAIROBI,  The age of impunity may be giving way to a new kind of global justice. Thanks to television and radio, millions of people worldwide have learned of the atrocities suffered by other human beings, and have become outraged at what they have seen and heard. People no longer accept that perpetrators profit from impunity for their crimes. So, could this be the beginning of a new era of human rights and international justice?

Samantha Power, Harvard professor and author of “Problem from Hell – America and the Age of Genocide”, visited Darfur, western Sudan, in the summer of 2005. She asked many people where they would go if they could escape the violence that oppressed them daily. The common answer was “The Hague”. Power said they had heard it was home to a court and they “wanted to go testify”.

“I wouldn’t say they knew about the International Criminal Court (ICC). What they knew was that there was this thing called “The Hague”, a place where bad people were sent, and where over the course of recent years people [who had suffered like them] had had the ability to go and testify,” reported Professor Power.

People are beginning to realise that there are courts outside their own countries – international courts – where the culture of impunity may finally be stemmed and where those guilty of abuses may be punished. The dream of “The Hague” for brutalised Darfurians is emblematic of this change.

The new measure of human rights

Increasingly, those in power – politicians, the judiciary, police, soldiers and companies – are being measured not only against regional or national standards, but also by universal standards. The same applies to local traditional customs and practices.

As news of human rights violations reaches governments and civilians across the world, a collective sense of outrage against the perpetrators is growing. While the crimes committed are not necessarily new, widespread respect for human rights is. This respect has been bolstered by the idea that it is now possible to prosecute those who commit atrocities.

Slowly, but steadily, the international community is developing conditions where, in extreme circumstances, the long-guarded notion of national sovereignty may yield to a higher order of international justice.

Cesare Romano, of the New York–based Center on International Cooperation, echoes the views of many observers who claim that international criminal justice is “one of the most significant changes in the international architecture that has taken place in the post-Cold War era”.

This evolution in international relations and international law is not yet complete, and has spawned controversy and attracted criticism. However, progress is being made, although it is still too soon to tell to what extent these changes will become permanent.

The erosion of the Westphalian Model

Since the end of the Cold War, international cooperation has taken a new direction. In today’s international society, a growing number of states agree that the worst human rights abuses should be punished at an international level – albeit in national courts.

The importance of this shift away from a system of national justice that dates back to the 17th century cannot be overstated.

The “Peace of Westphalia” of 1648 saw the end the outright authority of the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor, and ushered in a state system that has been in use since. The “Westphalian Model” means that individual states need not recognise any superior authority beyond their own sovereignty.

It was another three hundred years before states began to work together to achieve common goals, e.g. as telecommunications agreements, the protection of the Antarctic, or maritime law. These accords and agreements were created using international institutions.

An attempt to limit the brutality of war came with the Geneva Conventions of 1864 and 1865. Here standards were laid out and agreed upon by a majority of powerful states.

Before the ‘globalisation’ of criminal courts, it was the job of national courts to prosecute human rights offenders. Governments and politicians may remain resistant to any erosion of the “Westphalian Model” and state sovereignty, but support for international justice is gathering pace and looks set to continue.

As the former UN Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, put it in 1991: “We are clearly witnessing what is probably an irresistible shift in public attitudes towards the belief that the defence of the oppressed in the name of morality should prevail over frontiers and legal documents.”

Internationalising justice in the twentieth century

“We are at the beginning of an age in which it will be insisted that the same standards of conduct and of responsibility for wrong shall be observed among nations and their governments that are observed among the individual citizens of civilized states”

Woodrow Wilson declaring war in 1917

The aftermath of the First World War saw several failed attempts to create an international judicial body to try suspects for major crimes against humanity.

French and British moves to try Kaiser Wilhelm II were successfully opposed by the USA, fearing a breach of head-of-state impunity. The Versailles Peace Conference of 1919 and the Covenant of the League of Nations did not mention the concept of human rights, despite the 8.5 million lives lost in the war.

It was not until 1922 that the Permanent Court of International Justice, sometimes called the World Court, was established by the League of Nations. Between 1922 and 1940 the court dealt with 29 cases between states, and delivered 27 advisory opinions. It was replaced in 1946 by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) when the United Nations was founded, although it handled only legal disputes between states. Cases could not be brought by individuals or non-governmental groups, nor could individuals or groups be tried.

The ICJ however is hampered by the fact that its adjudication and jurisdiction has to be recognised by the state being tried. This lack of power is the court’s over-riding problem – a problem which is echoed in other agreements.

An ambitious international treaty was developed in 1928 with the Kellogg-Briand Pact, also known as the Pact of Paris. This pact provided for the “renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy”, and is regarded as an important international multilateral treaty because it established the idea that the use of military force can be unlawful.

The Pact was signed by 62 nations, among them Germany. This paved the way for the conviction of those found guilty of starting World War Two (WW2) at the Nuremberg Trials.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) condemns crimes of aggression, but cannot make a ruling until clear definitions have been drawn out – this is not expected to happen before 2009.

For some observers this represents an important missed opportunity to outlaw war as an instrument of national policy, and make it an indictable international offence. For others it suggests that Nuremburg may have represented a false, or premature, dawn for international justice. Experts meanwhile have suggested a deadline of 2009 is optimistic while the ICC remains a difficult issue for many governments.

Nuremburg and Tokyo: symbolic inspiration?

The Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunals, established in the wake of WW2 to prosecute German and Japanese crimes, were keenly promoted by the US. British and Russian leaders favoured execution for German and Japanese leaders, although in the case of Russia, albeit following perfunctory military hearings.

Up until recent years, and before the creation of new international legal bodies, Tokyo and Nuremburg served as the most powerful examples of and most symbolic inspiration for international justice. The Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremburg trials, Robert Jackson, described them thus: “Four great nations, stung with injury, stay the hand of vengeance and subject their captive enemies to the judgement of the law … one of the most important tributes that Power has ever paid to Reason”.

However, although as tools of international justice against acts of inhumanity, the trials had their drawbacks. According to Romano: “They were criticised for playing fast and loose with principles of criminal law to ensure convictions, for their slanted military character, and because their ultimate legitimacy rested on the victor’s right to decide the fate of the defeated enemy rather than on law”.

These trials coincided with the new period of post-war commitment to ensuring that such wartime horrors were never repeated through the creation of international agreements and the UN Charter. Any effective action however was frozen from the late 1940s for the duration of the Cold War.

Cold War Cynicism


Despite the 1948 Genocide Convention obliging member states to intervene, in 1994 no country acted to halt the slaughter by the Rwandan Hutus which resulted in the death of almost one million Tutsi’s and moderate Hutu. These sculls are testament to the limits of non-enforceable international agreements, when put to the test.
Credit: IRIN

Well-intended calls for global harmony made in the wake of WW2 were short-lived as the world divided itself into teams lining up behind the two super-powers. However, the Cold War period which lasted until 1990 spawned a number of conventions and commitments for a peaceful world, but as one critic suggested, “the road to hell is paved with good conventions.”

While the prosecution for human rights violations were left to the national courts to hear, in practice, crimes went unpunished during this period. In particular, wide-scale violations of rights took place throughout colonial Africa, Spain, apartheid South Africa, Stalinist Russia, China under Mao and the Gang of Four, during the Korea and Vietnam wars and in Central and Latin America.

Millions of people were affected as states and individuals perpetrated violations virtually without sanction. Despite the volumes of human rights treaties and conventions introduced during this period, for many experts the Cold War represented the most cynical period of multilateral efforts towards global rights and justice.

But, the drive to prosecute and avert impunity for international crimes picked up pace at the end of the Cold War. Jurist and human rights writer, Geoffrey Robertson, wrote: “After a half-century of ineffectual treaties and diplomatic thumb-twiddling, there came this end-of-century stampede to put global justice systems in place: an international court, a ‘prosecute or extradite’ regime for torturers, a precedent for intervening in the internal affairs of sovereign states out of humanitarian necessity.”

Dying to take action



“According to an authoritative study of genocide and state-sponsored killing at the University of Hawaii, more than 170 million people were murdered by their own governments during the 20th century” 

Harvard International Review

In the final months of the 20th century, some critical developments and interventions took place that suggested the world was getting ready to make individuals accountable for violation of human rights and crimes against humanity.

General Pinochet was arrested in London; Serb and Croat generals, and concentration-camp commandos, were arrested by NATO forces in the Balkans; and in Arusha, Tanzania, the former prime minister of Rwanda was convicted of genocide. Even Libya finally handed over the two suspects implicated in the bombing of a Pan American jumbo jet over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.

Then, in Rome in June 1998, 120 states agreed to set up the International Criminal Court (ICC) that would come into effect four years later following ratification by 60 states.

Those good intentions however failed in1994 when the international community did not intervene in the Rwandan genocide of ethnic Tutsis. This would suggest that intervention is not based on human rights issues alone.

Nevertheless, interventions into human rights violations did take place in 1999 in the case of NATO’s invasion of Yugoslavia, to halt the “ethnic cleansing” in Kosovo; and in the case of the Australian-led, UN-backed coalition that invaded East Timor to end massacres by militias supported by the Indonesian army.

Although there are those such as Noam Chomsky, one of America’s most prominent political dissidents and a professor of linguistics at MIT, who see these interventions being driven by political interests. Meanwhile, others such as David Rieff, the political analyst, claim: “The conflict over Kosovo, the first ever waged by the NATO alliance, was undertaken more in the name of human rights and moral obligation than out of any traditional conception of national interest.”

Whatever other strategic reasons may have motivated these interventions, it appeared that nations were prepared to kill for human rights and equally allow their soldiers to be killed defending human rights. For Robertson, this movement may have owed something to: “A sickness at the atrocities of the twentieth century and a wish to do better in the twenty-first. But it did seem to foreshadow a millennial shift, from appeasement to justice, as a dominant factor in diplomatic relations.”

Biting the bullet: the ad hoc tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda


Another innocent victim of the butchery of Sierra Leone where rebels terrorised civilians using mutilation. Some of those responsible are currently being tried under international and national law but the majority remain free.
Credit: Brent Stirton/OCHA

In light of the protracted and brutal Balkan conflict of the early 1990s, the international conscience hoped to use the courts to make up for what they failed to do on the ground. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established while the conflict still raged. It seemed the world was finally biting the bullet of international justice, with sufficient political will and some force to implement it.

Based in The Hague, the tribunal functions as an ad hoc court and, following the legacy of Nuremberg, makes individuals responsible for violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide and crimes against humanity. It can only try individuals, not organisations or governments, and the maximum sentence it can impose is life imprisonment. Created in 1993, it issued its last indictment in March 2004. It aims to complete all trials by 2008 and all appeals by 2010.

As of 16 March 2006, the ICTY had indicted 161 people. Only six of these remained “at large”. The cases against 85 of the indicted had been concluded: 46 were found guilty; eight acquitted; 25 had their indictments withdrawn; and six died (four in custody and three while their cases were being heard). Four cases had been sent to national courts in Serbia or Croatia, for trial. Seventeen of those convicted had completed their sentences and had been released by May 2006.

Those indicted ranged from soldiers to generals and police commanders, as well as prime ministers. Slobodan Milosevic was the first sitting head of state indicted for war crimes; he died while still being tried in March 2006. Other “high level” indictees included Milan Babic, Croatian Serb prime minister of Republika Srpska Krajina; Ramush Haradinaj, Albanian prime minister of Kosovo; Radovan Karadzic, Montenegrin former President of Republika Srpska; and Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb army commander.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, Tanzania, is another ad hoc international court operating under the auspices of the United Nations. Cases there relate to offences committed in Rwanda during the genocide of 1994. The tribunal was created in November of the same year and has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – which are defined as violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (dealing with war crimes committed during internal conflicts).

To date, the Tribunal has convicted sixteen people, with a further eight appealing convictions; another twenty-seven people are still on trial and 15 are awaiting trial in detention; 18 remain at large.

The first trial, of Jean-Paul Akayesu, began in 1997. Jean Kambanda, the interim prime minister, pleaded guilty and was convicted of genocide. This gave the court early credibility that what happened between April and June 1994 was in fact genocide, and not just civil warfare as many of the defendants claimed. As with the ICTY, all trials will be completed by the end of 2008, and appeals will continue up to 2010.

Handing over the tribunal’s torch

Realising that both the ICTY and ICTR would not have completed all their cases by 2010, and recognising the need to pursue justice in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, plans have been made to ‘hand over the torch.’

In January 2003, the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina (OHR), and the ICTY, issued a set of joint conclusions recommending the creation of a War Crimes Chamber Project (WCCP). This project would consist of a specialised chamber for war crimes within the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and a corresponding special department for war crimes within the Prosecutors Office of BiH. These were established in January 2005, and comprise international and national judges, and prosecutors.



“the greatest recent single act of progress for justice, human rights and the rule of law”

Kofi Annan on the setting up of the International Criminal Court

Already the WCCP is taking shape with the transferral of war crimes cases to the appropriate national governments within the states of the former Yugoslavia. In September of 2005, Radovan Stankovic was transferred from the ICTY to the custody of the Court of BiH. In November 2005, Gojko Jankovic was transferred. Future transfers are expected.

On 3 February 2006, the WCCP began hearing its first genocide case starting with the trial of 11 members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, indicted for genocide and complicity to genocide in the Srebrenica massacre.

The future of the ICTR is still the subject to international debate while Rwanda still has the death penalty. The ICTR is also unsure that indictees would get a fair trial in Kigali. Rwanda on the other hand, has expressed a willingness to take over outstanding cases, and is keen to do so. The UN and court officials continue to explore options, including Tanzania taking over the court. However, one thing is certain: the trials must go on.

Netting the big fish

Another important court illustrating recent progress towards international justice – though considered a hybrid – is the Special Court for Sierra Leone. It is an independent judicial body set up to “try those who bear greatest responsibility” – the so-called “big fish” – for the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the country’s civil war. The court is located in Freetown.


Some months after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 a former political prisoner demonstrates how he was tortured by the Shah’s secret police on this specially made chair named “Apollo”. Human rights abuses continued in Iran despite the over throw of the Shah. Their current record is judged to be one of the worst in the world.
Credit: Manoocher/IRIN

This court was set up     following a direct request to United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, in June 2000, from the then president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. By August that year, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1315, requesting the Secretary-General to start negotiations with the Sierra Leonean government to create a Special Court. By 2002 the court was operational.

To date, the court has indicted 11 people for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian law. Of the 11, 10 are in the custody of the Special Court – including the recently arrested former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. Only the deposition of Johnny Paul Koroma remains uncertain. Koroma was widely reported to have been killed in June 2003, but, as definitive evidence of his death was never provided, his indictment has not been dropped.

Those found guilty face a prison sentence or may have their property confiscated. Like the ITCY and ITCR, the Special Court does not have the power to impose the death penalty.

Apart from the Special Court, there are currently three other active hybrid jurisdictions, incorporating both international and national features. These are the Serious Crimes Panels in the District Court of Dili (East Timor); the “Regulation 64” Panels in the courts of Kosovo; and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, currently being established in Phnom Penh to try the remnants of the Pol Pot regime.

According to Cesare Romano: “ These internationalised criminal bodies are an expression of the international community’s concerns but, at the same time, they are part of the reconstruction enterprise of a new judicial system in countries where the entire administration had been destroyed by civil wars (Kosovo, East Timor), or they facilitate acceptance of accountability to justice of former national rulers (Cambodia and, in some respects, Sierra Leone), in view of a purely national process of reconciliation.” Romano echoes other observers who consider that all these hybrid courts, “bear witness to the will of the international community to have its own peremptory norms respected but, at the same time, they generally answer a national need and, at least to some extent, fulfill national purposes.”

A more detailed description of the global varieties of hybrid courts, and truth and reconciliation mechanisms, is available in another IRIN report.

The ICC: the perpetrators’ nemesis?

The three courts of the ICTY, ICTR and the Special Court of Sierra Leone, have come under considerable criticism ranging from questions concerning the courts’ legality and their impartiality, to their competence. Despite this and the modest number of convictions handed down by these tribunals, it is considered that the momentum produced by the creation of ICTY, and ICTR in particular, has opened the way for the establishment of the ICC.

This train has been slow coming; the idea of an international criminal court or penal tribunal was proposed as early as 1937 by the League of Nations. In the late 1940s and early 1950s the International Law Commission produced some draft statutes for the idea, but it was the 1990s that saw a serious resurgence of the idea that is now, as the ICC, the embodiment of Nuremburg justice – where war criminals and those with command responsibility are indicted and punishing as individuals.

Finally, the main perpetrators of terror and violence have their nemesis. A system and a court has been specifically created to deal with the individuals who wreak havoc, holding them dividually responsible. However, with more than 100 countries refusing to sign or ratify the Rome Statute to date, there remain many places for indictees to hide.

The ICC was established in 2002 as a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as defined by several international agreements, most prominently the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998 (the “Statute”).

Almost all states participating at the Rome adoption conference voted in favour of the Statute; only the United States, Israel, the People’s Republic of China, Iraq, Qatar, Libya and Yemen voted against. Israel went on to sign the Statute just before it was closed for signatures, but later nullified its signature. The United States under Bill Clinton signed the treaty, but never submitted it for ratification. When George W. Bush took office shortly afterwards, he nullified the signature amid generalised congressional consensus.

The Statute became a binding treaty after it received its 60th ratification, which was deposited at a ceremony at United Nations Headquarters on 11 April 2002. The ICC legally came into existence on 1 July 2002, and can only prosecute crimes that occurred after this date. It is regarded as a major development by activists working towards ending impunity and internationalising justice. However, to date, less than half the world’s nations have signed or ratified the treaty, and it has fierce opponents.

The ICC is designed to complement existing national judicial systems, however, it can can exercise its jurisdiction if national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes. It is what is known as a “court of last resort,” leaving the primary responsibility to exercise jurisdiction over alleged criminals to individual states.

The Chief Prosecutor of the court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has decided to open investigations in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan in the last two years. He declined a recent request to investigate the invasion of Iraq and remains undecided whether to open investigations in the Central African Republic following a request from its government in January 2005. Both Uganda and the DRC requested ICC investigations, while the case of Sudan and the atrocities carried out in Darfur was referred to the court by the UN Security Council in March 2005.

The capacity of the ICC to investigate and prosecute will be limited, which will inevitably result in numbers actually indicted and convicted at the ICC being even fewer than those of the ad hoc tribunals. Ocampo is realistic concerning the issue of the “big fish” versus the “small fish” dilemma, and told IRIN: “It is only my job to do one or two cases, to make my contribution and then leave. The countries themselves continue the work. This doesn’t mean our work is only symbolic. The ICC is just part of the solution not the whole solution. But we have practical issues and have to try to maximise the impact by gathering the leaders. To stop organised crime you have to stop the leaders.”


Women prisoners in Evin prison Theran for being opposed to the Iranian revolution, February 1982. A political prison of sinister reputation, Evin became the symbol of all other prisons of the Khomeini regime. Thousands of people, oppositionists or suspected oppositionists, were tortured or executed without the least form of due process.
Credit: Manoocher/IRIN

Many protagonists for the ICC would argue that the ICC is valuable in and of itself. They argue that a permanent tribunal of this kind should exist for principled reasons alone, despite the limitations it will face and questions of whether it will actually deter future violence. For Power, the deterrent effect remains important albeit unquantifiable. She cites other effects the court may have: “Perhaps its greatest impact will be to expedite the development of domestic legal enforcement tools in countries where atrocities actually happen. Where proud statesmen don’t want to turn over their thugs and want to do it at home for a range of reasons. So the threat of the ICC, the spectre of Louis Moreno Ocampo, might make countries go ahead and prosecute their bad guys themselves.” 

Towards universal jurisdiction?

The developments in the last 100 years towards internationalising justice and ending individual impunity for atrocities have been significant, and show signs of gathering more momentum. Prosecuting perpetrators is a key element of the increasingly active sector known as “transitional justice”, where societies emerging from repressive rule or armed conflict seek to address past abuses through different mechanisms that now include the ICC, as well as the many truth commissions.

Ending immunity for past abuses is not only the interest of the people concerned but is also of global concern, not least because abusive regimes or genocidal events rarely only affect people within the confines of a single territory.

For legal analysts such as Robertson, the politicians have lost the lead, having been taken over by civil society. The “CNN factor” of millions of people being aware of, and appalled by, wrongdoing they see on their screens has led to a growing number of people across the world who will expect nothing less than justice systems capable of ending impunity.

On the eve of the first ICC arrest (Thomas Lubanga in early 2006 from the DRC), investigations Prosecutor Ocampo re-emphasised his personal commitment to the success of universal jurisdiction: “We need to have this idea of world justice. If we have global communication and global business, we also need global justice. Ultimately I am optimistic.” To date, however, the ICC is the only palpable evidence of concrete change.

In 1993, Belgium passed an extraordinary War Crimes Law that embodied universal jurisdiction. They argued that certain crimes pose so serious a threat to the international community, that any single state should be able to prosecute an individual responsible for it. It allowed anyone to bring war crimes charges in Belgian courts, which is exactly what people did, resulting in an explosion of impossible depositions often involving serving world leaders.

By 2003, the scope of the ‘Belgian Law’ was restricted by its own government after considerable criticism from outside Belgium. Was its existence and aspirations emblematic of the current zeitgeist where activists, in some cases states, agree that forms of universal jurisdiction are now required and appropriate? Or was its failure indicative that the world is not yet ready for the inherent degree of loss of sovereignty that such a law expressed?

Historically the willingness of nations to yield some sovereignty to give space to justice represents a huge change. Despite major forces resisting theses changes, Power told IRIN: “A shift has occurred. Is it a sufficient shift? Hardly. Is it the beginning, potentially, of a movement towards accountability and enforcement? I think it is, unquestionably.”

 

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cmh/jmc source http://www.irinnews.org

 

 

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3rd annual Iberoamerican week of International Justice and Human Rights to open in The Hague on 8 July 2013

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

On Monday, 8 July 2013, at 09:00, the 3rd annual Iberoamerican Week of International Justice and Human Rights will kick off with an Opening Ceremony at The Hague University’s main auditorium, with speeches by Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties, and Mr Herman von Hebel, Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), among others.  

The week of events, organised by the International Criminal Court and the Iberoamerican Institute for Peace, Human Rights and International Justice (IIH), is held annually to bring together students and experts from the Iberoamerican region and practitioners in The Hague. This year’s activities are supported by the Embassies of Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico.

From 8 to 12 July, a number of events and activities will take place throughout The Hague to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of international law and human rights. Experts and interested members of the public are welcome to participate.

The week’s activities will conclude on 12 July 2013 with the final round of the ICC Trial Competition 2013 – Spanish version, starting at 09:30 in Courtroom I of the International Criminal Court. The top three universities from the regional competitions will compete on a fictional case in an open session of Court. The competition is open to the public and will also be webstreamed live on the ICC website (www.icc-cpi.int). ICC Trial Competitions play a critical role in galvanising interest in the Court’s work with academic communities and enhancing global respect for international criminal law.

 

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source ICC

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Kenya case: President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Trial is scheduled to commence on 12 November 2013

Posted by African Press International on June 20, 2013

Situation: The Republic of Kenya

Case: The Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta

Today, 20 June 2013, Trial Chamber V(B) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) set the new date of for the commencement of the trial of Mr Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta. The trial is now scheduled to commence on 12 November 2013.

On 26 April 2013, the Trial Chamber determined that the Defence should be gr= anted additional time to prepare for trial due to the delays by the Prosecution in disclosing its evidence. The Trial Chamber invited the Defence to submit observations as to the estimated time it needed to adequately prepare fo= r trial. After receiving these observations, and responses from the Prosecution and the Legal Representative of Victims, the Judges decided to formally vacate the 9 July 2013 date scheduled for the trial’s opening. The new date was set taking into account the Defence’s need for adequate time to prepare its case as well as scheduling and logistical considerations.

Mr Kenyatta is charged, as an indirect co-perpetrator, with five counts of c= rimes against humanity consisting of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during the post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.

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source: ICC

 

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Ivory Coast case at the ICC: Laurent Gbagbo case

Posted by African Press International on June 5, 2013

On Monday, 3 June 2013, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) adjourned the hearing on the confirmation of charges in the case of The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo and requested the Prosecutor to consider providing further evidence or conducting further investigation on certain points.

Ivory Coast, which was not party to the Rome Statute at the time, had accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC on 18 April 2003; more recently, and on both 14 December 2010 and 3 May 2011, the Presidency of Ivory Coast reconfirmed the country’s acceptance of this jurisdiction. On 3 October 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber authorised the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the situation in Ivory Coast since 28 November 2010.

On 22 February 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber III decided to expand its authorisation for the investigaion in Ivory Coast to include crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed between 19 September 2002 and 28 November 2010. On 15 February 2013, Ivory Coast ratified the Rome Statute. The confirmation of charges hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo took place from 19 to 28 February 2013. On 22 November 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber I unsealed a warrant of arrest against Simone Gbagbo for four charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the territory of Ivory Coast between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.

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Source ICC

 

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ICC: Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto addresses the Status Conference in the Hague

Posted by African Press International on May 16, 2013

The Status Conference which was scheduled to take place Tuesday the 14th and 15th of May 2013 started with Ruto and Sang being Present in person in the Internationa Criminal Court.

Ruto has told the court that he is a victim of falsehood. This is not far from the truth because those who have come forward to witness against him have been promised incentives – money and high class lifestyles in Western rich countries, on condition they help the prosecution convict Deputy President Ruto.

Some of the witnesses, however, have started getting cold feet, withdrawing themselves from the witness list and revealing that they were induced.

On the Wednesday, the second day of the Status Conference both accused were not rewuired by the court to be present, so with the leave of the court, they were absent. Ruto had told the court that he had scheduled to be in the Hague only one day but that he had no problem attending the proceedings on the second day if the court so ordered.

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Nothing to hide, Nothing to fear: Deputy President William Ruto is in the Hague (ICC) today 14th May 2013 for a Status Conference

Posted by African Press International on May 14, 2013

  • By Korir, Oslo – Norway

This is a sign of nothing to hide, and no fear. A man of character – already Deputy President Ruto knows he has nothing to hide nd fear , thus he decided to travel to the Hague yesterday evening even if it was not a must for him to do so. His lawyers would represent him during this status conference whereby the court wants to fix the hearing dates after postponing the hearing that was scheduled to start on the 28th of this month of May 2013.

The fact that Deputy President Ruto decided to be present in person in the International Criminal Court is great sign that he will cooperate with the court until the end, and the fact that he is now Kenya’s deputy Head of State has not entered into his mind transforming him to ignore the court.

This is a man who says he is innocent, and has put his fate in the hands of his creator, the Almighty God. Mr Ruto Believes he will be exonerated in the end, and will come out of this tormenting period, a very strong man.

Deputy President William Ruto (left) and his wife Rachel Ruto (right) are received by Kenyan ambassador to Netherlands Makena Muchiri at the Schipol Airport May 13, 2013. Mr Ruto is in The Hague to attend ICC's status conference May 14, 2013. REBECCA NDUKU/DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto (left) and wife Rachel Ruto (in red) being received by Kenyan ambassador to Netherlands Makena Muchiri at the Schipol Airport yesterday May 13, 2013. Mr Ruto is in The Hague to attend ICC’s status conference today May 14, 2013. Rebecca Nduku/NDUKU/DPPS  

Deputy President William Ruto has arrived in The Hague, Netherlands to be personally present at a status conference at the International Criminal Court. He left Kenya yesterday night accompanied by his wife, and Attorney General Professor Githu Muigai.

A few hours before leaving Kenya, Mr Ruto welcomed home President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) at 10.00pm when arrived back int the country from a four-day visit to South Africa. President Kenyatta was in South Africa attending the World Economic Forum on Africa themed “Delivering on Africa’s Promise”.

The status conference at the ICC will discuss Mr Ruto’s request to have his trial moved from May 28th to November. The conference will also discus ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to add five witnesses to their list. The conference will also discus modalities – how Mr Ruto will attend the proceedings while at the same time running the country as Deputy Head of State. This is a consideration the court seems to agree to, because Mr Ruto is cooperating with the court and there is not warrant of arrest against him.

The former radio presenter Joshua arap Sang has requested the same as Mr Ruto. He wants his case postponed from 28th of this month to November.

The two men say they are ready to cooperate with the court until the end of the trial because they say they are innocent.

During the start of the Kenya cases at the ICC, brought by Moreno Ocampo, the former Chief prosecutor, there were six suspects, namely President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta who was then Kenya’s Deputy Prime Minister, Former Head of the Civil Service Mr. Francis Muthaura, Former Commissioner of Police Ali, Deputy President William Samoei Arap Ruto (then MInister of Agriculture and Education), former Industrialization Minister Mr Henry Kosgey and the former Radio Presenter Mr Joshua Arap Sang.

The cases facing Ali, and Kosgey were thrown out at the confirmation of charges hearing. Mr Francis Muthaura’s case crumbled recently, even after charges against him had been confirmed by the Pre-trial chamber.

The cases are falling apart because witnesses that the prosecution rely on are now coming out of the closet saying that they were enticed to lie by being offered comfortable lifestyles in European capitals and other countries including the US, Canada and Australia.

There are strong signs that the remaining cases – Mr Kenyatta’s, Mr Ruto’s and Mr. Sang’s will also see no convictions.

 

Related articles:

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International Criminal Court opens inquiries on allegations of sexual abuse against on of their own

Posted by African Press International on April 15, 2013

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a formal internal inquiry into allegations communicated by four individuals under the ICC’s protection programme that they had been subject to sexual abuse by a former ICC staff member working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The Court has a zero tolerance policy towards any form of sexual abuses and is handling these allegations with great rigor and caution.

The allegations concerned were promptly communicated by the ICC to the relevant national authorities. Before opening the inquiry, appropriate actions were taken by the ICC to ensure the safety, security and well-being of the four individuals, in addition to supplementary measures aiming at providing reinforced psychological and medical support and legal assistance.

The internal inquiry is aimed at establishing the facts underlying the allegations and fairly determining any possible responsibilities. The results of this inquiry will be reported to the ICC Judges and relevant parties to the proceedings concerned.

Ensuring the safety and security of victims and witnesses is one of the most important duties of the Court and a cornerstone of fair trials. The Court is profoundly concerned by these grave allegations and is fully addressing this matter by taking all appropriate actions to ensure accountability and fairness.

 

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source: ICC

 

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ICC Judges decide Laurent Gbagbo fit to take part in proceedings

Posted by African Press International on November 4, 2012

Situation: Ivory Coast

Case: The Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo

On 2 November 2012, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided that Mr Laurent Gbagbo was fit to take part in the proceedings before the Court. The judges will soon set a date for the confirmation of charges hearing in the case.

According to the judges’ decision, practical adjustments will need to be made in order to enable him to participate at the confirmation of charges hearing. These may include shorter court sessions, the provision of appropriate facilities to rest during breaks, the possibility for the suspect to excuse himself from all or part of the proceedings and to follow them via video link if he so wishes. The Chamber will determine the appropriate arrangements for the conduct of the hearings in consultation with the Defence and the Registry.

Background

According to the arrest warrant issued against him, Laurent Gbagbo allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity: a) murder, b) rape and other sexual violence, c) persecution and d) other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the  context of the post-electoral violence in the territory of C d’Ivoire between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. He was surrendered to the ICC on 30 November 2011 and he appeared before the Pre-Trial Chamber on 5 December 2011.

On 26 June 2012, the Chamber appointed three experts to assist in determining whether Mr Gbagbo was capable of meaningfully exercising his rights in the proceedings against him before the Court. The order to conduct a medical examination followed a filing of the Defence arguing, among other things, that the confirmation of charges hearing – initially scheduled for 13 August 2012 – should be postponed because Mr Gbagbo’s state of health made him unfit to take part in proceedings. On 2 August 2012, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I postponed the confirmation of charges hearing until the issue of Mr Gbagbo’s fitness to take part in the hearing was resolved.

The confidential medical reports were filed on 19 July 2012. A hearing was subsequently held in closed session on this issue on 24 and 25 September 2012 in the presence of Mr Gbagbo, his Defence, the Prosecutor, representatives of the Registry and the experts appointed by the Chamber.

The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

source: ICC

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Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are being persecuted: Information to be made public in the next few months will clear them

Posted by African Press International on August 20, 2012

  • This story has been updated – see below on updated marked 29.4.2013:

The next few months will bring a twist to the whole trial in the Hague against Mr Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr William Ruto, the two men supposed to stand trial for crimes against humanity.

Information expected to be released will expose the manipulations that took place engineered by Mr Ocampo in order to succeed to have them stand trial after the Confirmation of Charges Hearing that took place in September/October last year 2011.

The information is so embarrassing that it will cause difficulty for the prosecution to carry on with the case. They will have to ask the court to free them.

Some members of the prosecution who are privy to the information are now very troubled, knowing that the deal, once out in the open, will expose impunity within their ranks.

The officials privy to the information that will set the two men free are also well aware that they may end up in jail for playing along.

When Kenyatta’s and Ruto’s cases fall due to the manipulated information, Mr Francis Muthaura and Mr Joshua Sang will become free men as well.

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Updated 29.4.2013:

Francis Muthaura’s case fell early this year. Now the Ocampo six has been reduced to Bensouda three. These are President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto, together with Radio journalist Mr Sang.

ICC has problems. Witnesses withdrawing and now The Judge from Belgium is reported to have withdrawn from the case, while at the same time accusing the prosecution of shoddy investigation.

What will happen in the end to these Kenya cases is now unclear.

End

Written and posted the first time on 20.august 2012. Updated 29.4.2013. Withdrawn on 26.09.2013 due to security reasons. Awaiting further consideration, due to probability of the information ending up as evidence in the case.

Note:

The arising sensitivity of this is based on uncovered conspiracy led by Moreno Ocampo when he was the Chief Prosecutor. /26.09.2013.

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