Latest News and Events

International Criminal Courts: Progress Made, Progress Needed

By Samuel Linehan

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

On 29 October 2014, Chatham House and Doughty Street Chambers hosted the Sir Richard May Memorial Lecture. The speakers were Lord Justice Adrian Fulford and Judge Howard Morrison. The chair was Elizabeth Wilmshurst. The speakers discussed the major steps made in the trial of international crimes and addressed the challenges that still remain.

Sir Richard May was the first British judge at the ICTY, and as such the first British judge on an international criminal tribunal since the IMTs. He presided in Milošević and made a significant contribution to international criminal procedure as a member of the Rules Committee. His Memorial Trust aims to raise awareness of international humanitarian law by supporting interns from developing countries. So far it has sent more than 40 interns to the international criminal tribunals.

Lord Justice Fulford

Speaking on the theme of the evening, Judge Fulford was wary of the ‘miasma of legacy’ that surrounds such discussions. He spoke frankly on the fate of his ‘brainchildren,’ the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (‘OPCV’) and the Office of Public Counsel for Defence (‘OPCD’). In this connection he noted that castles built in the air tend to go up in smoke. His intention had been that these offices would provide professional and independent specialist in-house counsel and that self-employed counsel would be the backup option. The representation of victims and the accused is central to the ICC, which is at a crossroads. The outcome of the ReVision project to restructure the Registry (which includes these offices) is critical. Continue reading

Event: ADC-ICTY Annual Training

ADC-ICTY-300x300On Saturday 8 November 2014, the Association of Defence Counsel Practising Before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ADC-ICTY) is organising its annual training for members. Due to the large success of the Legacy Conference last year, this year’s training will also be open to external participants. The training will focus on the important topic of “Ethics” and will feature three panel discussions on ethical issues during pre-trial, trial and appeal. Participants may also obtain a certificate for continuing legal education (CLE) purposes.

The training will take place at the Bel Air Hotel in The Hague and will be an all-day event from 9:00 to 17:00. All participants are invited to the annual party at Hudson’s Bar and Kitchen afterwards.

The training is free of charge. There are limited places available and to register, please send an email to iduesterhoeft@icty.org with your full name and current place of employment/study.

A detailed programme of the training is available here.

Malala and Kailash Satyarthi: 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 to Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi.

Ill. N. Elmehed ©Nobel Media 2014

Ill. N. Elmehed ©Nobel Media 2014

With this decision, the Committee chose to recognize their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. Moreover, the Committee insisted on the importance to have a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in this common struggle.

Maintaining Ghandi’s tradition, Mr Satyarthi is an Indian child rights campaigner who has headed various forms of peaceful protests and demonstrations against the grave exploitation of children for financial gain and who contributed to the development of important international conventions on children’s rights.

Malala Yousafzai, laureate of the European Union Sakharov human rights prize in 2013, becomes the youngest-ever Nobel Prize winner. Malala has become a leading spokesperson defending the right of girls to education, and gave a powerful speech to the United Nations General Assembly last year.

ICC: The Challenges of the Defence

Court HammerIn a recent article in the French legal review “La Gazette du Palais”, the French Lawyer François Roux discusses the challenges faced by the Defence in front of the international jurisdictions, and more specifically at the International Criminal Court (ICC). After explaining that the creation of the Office of Public Counsel for Defence (OPCD) at the ICC constitutes an important step in order to reinforce the equality of arms and to enable a fair trial, Roux criticizes the fact that the OPCD falls within the remit and the authority of the Registry for administrative purposes and does not constitute per se an organ of the ICC, which is the case of the Office of the Prosecutor for instance.

On the contrary, he says, the Registry wants to replace the OPCD by an Association of Defence Counsel which would be external to the Court. For Roux, current Head of the Defence Office at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, it is essential that the Defence be permanently represented by an independent organ, equal to the Office of the Prosecutor, with the competence to conclude international agreements with States or to intervene at the Assembly of State Parties.

If you wish to read the article in French, click here.

Opening of the Srebrenica Documentation Center

Srebrenica Documentation Center

ICTY’s Vice-President Carmel Agius during the opening ceremony

Last month, the SENSE News agency has inaugurated the Srebrenica Documentation Center. The purpose of the Center is to show how the events in July 1995 in Srebrenica were investigated, reconstructed and prosecuted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Members of the many victims’ associations such as the Mothers of Srebrenica, political representatives from BH, the diplomatic corps and non-governmental organizations from Sarajevo, Zagreb, Belgrade, Podgorica and entire region were present at the opening ceremony. The opening attracted a lot of media interest.

Various representatives addressed the audience. Amongst them, the speech of the ICTY’s vice-president Carmel Agius caused a great deal of interest. The Maltese judge sees the opening of the Center as an important aspect of the Tribunal’s legacy and the best way to present the Tribunal’s work and to put the archives from The Hague to use. Continue reading

Latest Analysis

The Italian Constitutional Court’s Challenge to the Implementation of the ICJ’s Germany v Italy Judgment

by Dr Filippo Fontanelli

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice

With the decision no. 238 of 22 October 2014, the Italian Constitutional Court (the CC) produced the most spectacular display of dualism this side of Medellin. The CC declared the unconstitutionality of Italy’s compliance with the International Court of Justice (ICJ)’s judgment Germany v. Italy (Greece intervening). The CC’s ruling – briefly reported – invites speculation on two fronts: 1) What does it say about the application of international law in domestic courts? 2) Is the judgment reasonable by any relevant standards other than Italian constitutional law?

On the practical matters of the follow-up scenario before Italian ordinary courts, I take the liberty to refer to my discussion here (spoiler: Germany will not pay anyway).

In February 2012, the ICJ found that Italy breached its international obligations vis-à-vis Germany. Italian courts had exercised jurisdiction in tort proceedings against Germany, instituted by Italian plaintiffs for World War II war crimes of the Nazi occupation forces in Italy. These proceedings, resulting in Germany being ordered to compensate the victims, constituted internationally wrongful acts, since they disregarded the international custom whereby sovereign states are immune from civil suit in foreign courts, for acts jure imperii. The ICJ reached the same conclusion with respect to the ensuing enforcement proceedings and the exequatur granted by Italian judges to authorise execution of Greek judgments in similar disputes. Continue reading

ICC Releases Suspects to Avoid Unreasonably Lengthy Pre-Trial Detention

by Léa Kulinowski

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

On 21 October 2014, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court ordered the immediate release of four out of the five suspects in the case of Prosecutor v. Bemba, Kilolo, Mangenda, Babala and Arido. Mr. Bemba, who has been held in detention since July 2008 as a result of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, remains detained.

The suspects are charged with offences against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Statute – the first of its kind before the ICC – including giving false testimony, knowingly presenting false/forged evidence and corruptly influencing witnesses. The penalty for these offences goes from a fine to a maximum of five years of imprisonment.

When granting the interim release, the Single Judge emphasised the protection against unreasonable detention as per Article 60 (4) of the Statute and noted the advanced stage of the proceedings as well as the various delays, holding that “the reasonableness of the duration of the detention has to be balanced inter alia against the statutory penalties applicable to the offences at stake in these proceedings and that, accordingly, the further extension of the period of the pre-trial detention would result in making its duration disproportionate”. Even though the duration of the suspects’ detention was not due to the Prosecutor’s inexcusable delay, the Single Judge found that the Pre-Trial Chamber was under an independent obligation to ensure that that a person is not unreasonably detained prior to trial under Article 60 (4) of the Statute. Continue reading

Rights-Compliant Investment Needed to Keep SEZs Fair for All

by Vani Sathisan*

resident-thanlyin-township

A resident of Thanlyin township sits inside her home after officials posted an eviction notice in February 2013.

The village elder from Mutu, a small village near Dawei, in southern Myanmar, held out the 30 complaint letters residents had sent to Tanintharyi Region Chief Minister U Myat Ko.

The letters sought to highlight alleged human rights violations related to the development of the Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and requested that adequate compensation be paid to those affected.

In Mutu and neighbouring villages, farmers and fishermen lamented the displacement of communities, loss of livelihoods and culture, and forced relocations due to the development of the Dawei SEZ and related infrastructure. Some told us they were being charged with trespassing on government land because they had refused to leave their homes after their land had been confiscated.

While the Dawei SEZ has been stalled for some time, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit Myanmar – his first official overseas trip – and is expected to hold talks aimed at reviving the project.

But the complaints emanating from Dawei are not isolated incidents. Amid the euphoria of the investment gold rush, Myanmar faces an epidemic of land disputes exacerbated by the development of SEZs. Continue reading

A (New) New Regional International Criminal Court For Africa?

by Max du Plessis

Advocate of the High Court, Durban and Sandton; Associate Tenant, Doughty Street Chambers, London; Associate Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal

and

Nicole Fritz

Executive Director, Southern Africa Litigation Centre

I.       INTRODUCTION

Malabo Summit 2014

African Heads of State at the Malabo Summit last June

On June 2014, African Heads of State and Governments meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, adopted a Protocol on Amendments to the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (the ACJHPR Amendment). The ACJHPR Amendment revises the (not yet in force) Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR Protocol) – which was adopted in 2008 to merge the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights with the proposed African Court of Justice. The aim of the 2014 ACJHPR Amendment is to grant the resultant Court ‘International Criminal Law’ jurisdiction, adding to the ‘Human Rights’ jurisdiction it presently exercises and the ‘General International Law’ jurisdiction it is expected to exercise when the 2008 ACJHR Protocol comes into effect (whenever that may be). To make matters worse (or better), the ACJHPR Amendment also introduces a change in nomenclature: the new amended, revised African Court will be called the ‘African Court of Justice and Human and Peoples Rights’ (the ACJHPR) (article 8, ACJHPR Amendment).

To give effect to its aims, the 2014 ACJHPR Amendment contains a number of revisions to both the 2008 ACJHR Protocol and the Statute of the Court attached thereto. However, if matters were not already confusing and time-warped, the 2014 ACJHPR Amendment is itself a revised version of an earlier draft, approved by African Ministers of Justice and Attorney General and recommended to the AU Assembly in May 2012 (the ‘2012 Draft Amendment’). The 2012 Draft Amendment was the subject of considerable criticism, including a Comment in this journal by the author (du Plessis, ‘A new regional International Criminal Court for Africa?’, 2 SACJ (2012) 286). In short, general concerns were raised regarding the rushed drafting process and the lack of consultation, and specific concerns were raised as to difficulties surrounding jurisdiction, the definition of crimes, immunities, institutional design and the practicality of administration and enforcement of an expanded jurisdiction, amongst others. Continue reading

The Future of International Criminal Justice is Domestic

by Max du Plessis*

INTRODUCTION

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

Complementarity is certainly posited as a driving feature of the ICC regime. The ICC is expected to act in what is described as a ‘complementary’ relationship with domestic states that are party to the Rome Statute. The Preamble to the Rome Statute says that the ICC’s jurisdiction will be complementary to that of national jurisdictions, and article 17 of the Statute embodies the complementarity principle. At the heart of this principle is the ability to prosecute international criminals in one’s national courts, on behalf of the international community, or to have in place mechanisms to arrest and surrender to the ICC persons that the court seeks to prosecute and who happen to be in one’s jurisdiction.

Linked to the principle of complementarity is the practice of universal jurisdiction.  The ICC does not exercise universal jurisdiction.  But states do, and it is here that the real potential lies for states to act as impunity gap fillers – acting where the ICC is unable or unwilling to do so.

Various developments in Africa suggest a broader understanding of complementarity that is unfolding in practice and which is worthy of further exploration. This broader understanding in certain respects falls within the notion of ‘positive complementarity’, or perhaps better phrased, ‘proactive complementarity’ – a term meaning that the ICC and states should actively encourage genuine national proceedings where possible, and that national and international networks should be relied upon as part of a system of international cooperation. Continue reading