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

Kenyan President’s Trial Adjourned Indefinitely

Uhuru Kenyatta ICC

Uhuru Kenyatta at the ICC

Today, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested that the trial against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta be adjourned indefinitely.

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she still did not have enough evidence to proceed with the trial, which was due to resume on 7 October.

She argued that the case should be delayed until the Kenyan Government complies in full with outstanding ICC cooperation requests.

“Under the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for the Prosecution to withdraw the charges against Mr Kenyatta before the Government of Kenya complies with the Revised Request. […] “In the five months since the Prosecution submitted its 8 April 2014 Revised Request, the Government of Kenya has produced a total of 73 pages of documentation. Some are not responsive to the Revised Request; even the responsive material is a fraction of the information sought”, she says.

Kenyatta is charged as an “indirect co-perpetrator” for crimes including murder, rape and persecution allegedly committed by others during violence that left more than 1,000 people dead after his country’s 2007 elections. He denies the allegations.

Kenyatta’s lawyers have repeatedly said the whole case should be dropped because of a lack of evidence.

Corporate Criminal Liability for International Crimes & the Alien Tort Statute

James G. Stewart, an assistant professor of law at the University of British Columbia and a former war crimes prosecutor, has published an article entitled “The turn to Corporate Criminal Liability for International Crimes: Transcending the Alien Tort Statute” in the New York University Journal of International Law and Politics. The full article is available here.

Protesters Seeking to Hold Royal Dutch Shell Liable for Human Rights Abuses ©Minn. J. Int’l L.

Protesters Seeking to Hold Royal Dutch Shell Liable for Human Rights Abuses ©Minn. J. Int’l L.

Abstract: In November 2013, Swiss authorities announced a criminal investigation into one of the world’s largest gold refineries, on the basis that the company committed a war crime. The Swiss investigation comes a matter of months after the US Supreme Court decided in Kiobel that allegations such as these could not give rise to civil liability under the aegis of the Alien Tort Statute (“ATS”). Intriguingly, however, the Swiss case is founded on a much earlier American precedent. In 1909, the U.S. Supreme Court approved the novel practice of prosecuting companies. Unlike the Court’s position in Kiobel a century later, the arguments that ultimately led to the open-armed embrace of corporate criminal liability were unambiguously concerned with impunity. For the U.S. Supreme Court, doing without corporate criminal responsibility would create a significant and highly undesirable regulatory gap. After that, the American fiction that corporations are people for the purposes of criminal law took hold, such that the concept is now relatively ubiquitous globally. Even jurisdictions that bravely held out for decades on philosophical grounds have recently adopted corporate criminal liability. Switzerland is one such case. Continue reading

Fair Trials International New Training Programme

flagFair Trials International is organising a Practitioner Training Course for lawyers from Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland on fair trial rights in criminal proceedings in partnership with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights. The course on “the EU directives on fair trial rights in criminal proceedings” will be held in Warsaw, Poland, from 21st to 23rd November 2014.

Venue: Westin Hotel, Warsaw, Poland

Dates: 21-23 November 2014

Language: English

For Lawyers from: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland

Application deadline: 12 September 2014

Cost: There is no charge for the training.

The application form is available here. To apply or for more information, send an email or visit Fair Trials’ Website.

Launch of an Online Forum on the Extraordinary African Chambers

Chambres Africaines ExtraordinairesAn interactive forum on the Extraordinary African Chambers (CAE) has been launched online.

This forum was chosen to bring information on the proceedings following the agreement between the African Union and Senegal to prosecute “those primarily responsible for international crimes committed in Chad between 1982 and 1990” to the attention of people in Senegal, Chad, Africa and throughout the world.

Since the beginning of 2014, an outreach campaign has made it easier for people in Chad and Senegal to access information through meetings, public debates and information workshops taking place in the capital and in the provinces. These events involve the general public, CAE members, administrative and judicial authorities of Chad and Senegal, lawyers, victims, researchers, the media and civil society. The campaign also aims to encourage debate around the contribution of the CAE in the framework of international criminal justice. Continue reading

STL Does Not Have Jurisdiction for Contempt Cases Against Legal Persons

Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Last week, the Contempt Judge Nicola Lettieri issued a Decision on a Motion Challenging the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s jurisdiction. The motion was submitted by the Defence for NEW TV S.A.L and Karma Hohamed Tahsin Al Khayat and questioned whether the Tribunal could hear cases of contempt and obstructions against the proper administration of justice by legal persons (i.e. corporate entities).

The Contempt Judge ruled that although the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) does not have jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with obstructions of justice against legal persons, it does retain jurisdiction to hear cases dealing with offences against the administration of justice against natural persons. This was held to be consistent not only with international case law, but also with Rule 60bis of the STL’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

Last year, information relating to confidential witnesses has been broadcasted in certain medias.

Following these events, the Registrar of the Tribunal appointed an amicus curiae. Based on reports by the amicus, the Contempt Judge concluded that there was prima facie evidence that justified proceedings for contempt.

Two journalists and two media organisations have been subsequently charged with contempt before the Tribunal.

Increasing the Efficiency of the Criminal Process at the International Criminal Court, While Preserving Individual Rights

by Shehzad Charania and John Doyle*

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

In operation for more than a decade, the International Criminal Court is often the subject of criticism for its lengthy trials and inefficient procedures.  The Court has completed three trials in that time, all of which have taken more than six years from the point of arrest to conviction or acquittal.  International criminal justice does, of course, throw up numerous complex challenges not found in domestic proceedings.  But 12 years of practice at the Court have confirmed that unnecessary delays occur in a number of areas, which have the potential to interfere with the rights of the accused, and, more broadly, the perception of the trial process among victims and affected communities, and the public at large.  Finally, delays have financial, logistical as well as other legal implications.

Last week, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Japan convened an all-day seminar, in conjunction with the Hague Institute for Global Justice.  The seminar, entitled “Increasing the Efficiency of the Criminal Process, while Preserving Individual Rights”, and moderated by Professor Håkan Friman, provided a unique opportunity for interaction, and discussion of radical ideas, between representatives of the Court, including over a third of the Court’s Judges, and senior members of the Office of the Prosecutor, the ad hoc tribunals, ICC States Parties, members of the Bar, NGOs and academia. Continue reading

Conference: Proof In International Criminal Trials

Court HammerFrom 27-28 June 2014, Bangor Law School and the Bangor Centre for International Law will host a conference on Proof in International Criminal Trials.

There is now an impressive body of literature on the precise scope, context and application of rules of evidence in international criminal trials. However, issues surrounding proof and reasoning on evidence in international criminal law have remained relatively under-examined to date.

By bringing together judges, practitioners and leading scholars on evidence, international criminal procedure and analytical methods, this conference will comprehensively address issues related to proof in international criminal proceedings.

These issues include, inter alia, the means by which inferences are drawn, how reasoning on findings of fact is articulated in judgments, and how witness credibility is assessed. Participants will analyse some of the challenges of fact-finding in the complex context of international criminal trials, which often involve large masses of evidence and hundreds of witnesses.

In order to register, please click here.

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