New Guest Blogger: Professor Alex Whiting

Alex WhitingIlawyerblog is pleased to announce the arrival of Alex Whiting as part of its team as guest blogger.

Alex Whiting is a Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School where he teaches, writes and consults on domestic and international criminal prosecution issues.

Previously, he worked for 18 years as a U.S. and international prosecutor. From 2010 until 2013, he was in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Before going to the ICC, Alex Whiting taught for more than three years as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, again with a focus on prosecution subjects. From 2002-2007, he was a Trial Attorney and then a Senior Trial Attorney with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Before going to the ICTY, he was a U.S. federal prosecutor for ten years.

Alex Whiting attended Yale College and Yale Law School. His publications include Dynamic Investigative Practice at the International Criminal Court, 76 Law and Contemporary Problems 163 (2014), International Criminal Law: Cases and Commentary (2011), co-authored with Antonio Cassese and two other authors, and In International Criminal Prosecutions, Justice Delayed Can Be Justice Delivered, 50 Harv. Int’l L. J. 323 (2009).

Ukraine Accepts ICC jurisdiction over Alleged Crimes Committed between November 2013 and February 2014

UkraineToday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) received a declaration lodged by Ukraine accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes committed in its territory from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014. The declaration was lodged under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute which enables a State not party to the Statute to accept the exercise of jurisdiction of the Court.

The acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction does not automatically trigger an investigation. It is for the ICC Prosecutor to decide whether or not to request the judges’ authorisation to open an investigation, if the Prosecutor considers that the information available to her establishes the existence of a reasonable basis to open an investigation.

If an investigation is opened, it will also be for the ICC Prosecutor to decide, on the basis of the evidence collected, whether to ask the ICC judges to issue arrest warrants or summonses to appear for persons charged with the commission of crimes falling under the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Gaddafi Brothers’ Trial Begins in Libya

Saif al-Islam

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi after his capture in 2011 (c) The Guardian

The trial of Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gaddafi, sons of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, begins today in Tripoli. The brothers are accused of coordinating a campaign to murder, torture, and bombard civilians during the Libyan civil war in 2011. They are also accused of plundering state resources in order to fund their extravagant lifestyles.

They are being tried alongside Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief to Muammar Gaddafi, as well as two former prime ministers and 34 senior officials of the old regime.

Security concerns have caused the trial to be moved to the maximum security Al Hadba prison. Yet, when the trial commences, Saif al-Islam will not be present as the rebel militias responsible for his detention in Zintan province continue to refuse to hand him over. He will be tried instead by video link.

Both Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi are the subject of proceedings before the International Criminal Court. In May 2013, judges ruled that Saif al-Islam should be surrendered to The Hague but in October 2013, found that Libya is fit to try al-Senussi for themselves. The latter decision is being appealed by defence counsel for Mr al-Senussi.

Event: Lecture “Addressing Crimes against the Environment under the Rome Statute”

Asser InstituteDate: 23 April 2014, at 6.30pm

Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22, The Hague, Netherlands

Organizer: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, in cooperation with the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden

Speaker: Steven Freeland is Professor of International Law at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, ‘Marie Curie Visiting Professor’ at the iCourts Centre of Excellence for International Courts, Denmark, and a Visiting Professor in International Law at the University of Copenhagen and University of Vienna.

The lecture is public and free of charge. Registration is not necessary, seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

For more information, click here.

Prosecution and Defence for Germain Katanga Appeal Judgement

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Germain Katanga (c) AFP

On 9 April 2014, both the prosecution and the defence for Germain Katanga filed notices of appeal at the International Criminal Court.

Mr Katanga was convicted by a majority of Trial Chamber II on 7 March 2014 for war crimes and crimes against humanity for arming the Congolese militia who carried out an attack on civilians at the village of Bogoro in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 24 Febraury 2003. His contribution, according to the majority of the Chamber, was to act as the intermediary between the weapons and ammunition suppliers and those who physically perpetrated the crimes. Judge Van den Wyngaert dissented in strong terms with the finding of the majority.

The defence intend to appeal the whole of the judgment convicting Mr Katanga and request a reversal of the verdict on all charges. The prosecution are appealing the finding of acquittal on the charges of rape and sexual slavery.

The trial of Mr Katanga was originally joined to that of Mr Ngudjolo but was severed when the majority of the chamber activated Regulation 55 of the Regulations of the Court to recharacterise the legal qualification of the charges, in a move that has attracted strong criticism.

The ICC and ICTY: Upholding International Criminal Law?

ICC Prosecutor Bensouda (c) Max Koot

Last week, Chatham House hosted a guest lecture entitled “The International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia: upholding international criminal law?”. The panel was composed of Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Judge Meron, President of the ICTY and chaired by Dr Abiodun Williams, President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice.

The session tackled the difficult issues that have been faced by the ICC and the ICTY including both courts lack of police powers to enforce the decisions of its judges, the recurring criticism that the ICC’s prosecutorial strategy is biased against African nations and the recent series of contradictory decisions from the ICTY Appeals Chamber, which some argue have introduced uncertainty into the law on aiding and abetting under international criminal law. Continue reading

No Release for Detained Counsel

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

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba on trial at the IC

On 14 March 2014 and 17 March 2014, respectively, the requests for interim release of Me Aimé Kilolo Musamba, former lead counsel for Mr Bemba, and Mr Jean Jacques Mangenda, former case manager for Mr Bemba, were denied.

Under article 60(2) of the Statute, upon an application for interim release, the Chamber has to determine whether “the conditions set forth in article 58 paragraph 1 are met”. In the negative, the person shall be released “with or without conditions”.

It is worth noting that in the contempt case in relation to which Messrs Kilolo and Mangenda were detained, the Prosecution did not decide to make use of the alternative enshrined in the Statute at Article 58 (7), namely to request the Pre Trial Chamber to issue a summons for the person to appear. The accused did not therefore have the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to appear voluntarily before the Court.

In its decisions, a Single Judge denied the requests for interim release on the basis that, in his view, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused have committed the crimes they are accused of, and, among other reasons, that there are concrete flight risks. Continue reading

International Criminal Court Summer School

Nui Galway

National University of Ireland, Galway

Date: 16-20 June 2014

Location: Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, University Rd, Galway, Ireland.

The annual International Criminal Court summer school at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premiere summer school specializing on the International Criminal Court. The summer school allows participants the opportunity to attend a series of intensive lectures over five days.The lectures are given by leading academics on the subject and by legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court.

The summer school is attended by legal professionals, academics, postgraduate students and NGOs. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures and operations, and the applicable law.

Participants are also given the opportunity to network with the speakers throughout the week. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, universal jurisdiction, immunities, and the role of victims.

A limited number of scholarships are available for the ICC Summer School 2014. Please see here for further information.

ICC: Kenyatta Trial Adjourned until October

President Uhuru Kenyatta (c) EPA

On 31 March 2014, the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) adjourned the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta until 7 October 2014.

The purpose of the adjournment is to give the Government of Kenya an opportunity to comply with a cooperation request by the Prosecution to hand over financial and other documents related to President Kenyatta. The records are allegedly relevant to proving that President Kenyatta financed the crimes with which he is charged.

The Prosecution had initially requested these documents from the Kenyan Government in April 2012 without success. The Government argued that the Prosecutor has no authority to make such a request, under either the Statute and the Rules of the Court or Kenyan domestic law.

In its decision, the Trial Chamber confirmed that the Prosecutor does have an independent authority to make such a cooperation request under Article 93(1) of the Rome Statute. It deferred consideration of the Prosecution request for a finding of non-compliance by the Kenyan Government until after the expiration of the adjournment period.

President Kenyatta is charged with crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the post-electoral violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.

Charles Blé Goudé Makes First Appearance Before the ICC

Charles Blé Goudé

Today, Charles Blé Goudé appeared before the Single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi set the date of the beginning of the confirmation of charges hearing in the case for 18 August 2014.

The Chamber will soon set a calendar for proceedings leading to the confirmation of charges hearing, including for upcoming status conferences and for the disclosure of evidence.

Background: On 22 March 2014, Charles Blé Goudé was surrendered to the ICC by the national authorities of Ivory Coast on the basis of a warrant of arrest issued by ICC judges on 21 December 2011 and unsealed on 30 September 2013.

Charles Blé Goudé, national of Ivory Coast, allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility, as indirect co-perpetrator, for four counts of crimes against humanity, namely murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution, and other inhuman acts, allegedly committed in the territory of Ivory Coast between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011.