Thursday, January 26, 2012

American Bar Association Center for Human Rights Announces Development of ICC Project

The American Bar Association, whose Section of International Law is an AMICC member, announced its intention to launch a project on the International Criminal Court which it is developing through its Center for Human Rights in close coordination and cooperation with AMICC:

CHR to Launch ICC Project

The American Bar Association has long supported the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its mission of ending impunity for the world’s worst crimes. ABA policy calls for U.S. accession to the Rome Statute, which established the Court; until then, the ABA has urged cooperative U.S. engagement with the Court.

To these ends, the Center for Human Rights has established a new ICC Project to enhance understanding and acceptance of the ICC’s vital role in securing a just rule of law for all people. At full strength, the project will:

Provide Practitioner Training by convening conferences and workshops for American and international criminal practitioners. The project also will train ICC staff and sponsor educational visits by federal, state, and local criminal litigators, investigators and administrators to the ICC to “shadow” their ICC counterparts and learn about ICC practices and procedures.

Foster Engagement among American and ICC officials by establishing venues for ongoing dialogue among ICC officials, policymakers, and stakeholders. One such forum, for example, will convene American proponents and opponents of the ICC to discuss U.S. policy toward the Court and ICC-related “current events”; another will compare and contrast features of American and international criminal prosecutions, such as pre-trial detention, examination of witnesses, and appellate procedures. The project also will facilitate meetings between ICC and U.S. officials on a regular basis, fostering high-level relationships and building of trust.

Advocate before the U.S. Legislative and Executive Branches by developing and implementing (with the ABA Governmental Affairs Office) advocacy strategies and opportunities, including an “ICC Lobby Day” and perhaps an “ICC Caucus” within Congress, and deploying ABA members and other elements of the legal profession to leverage their influence in the ICC’s behalf toward greater U.S. engagement with the Court.

The ICC Project will be guided by an advisory committee comprised of top-level ABA leaders and pre-eminent figures in international law and advocacy.

The project will be launched formally at an event in spring or summer 2012 that will convene major stakeholders in the U.S.-ICC relationship, including ICC officials, U.S. governmental leaders, foreign dignitaries, and representatives from relevant think tanks, academia and NGOs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ICC in the Media, Update #58

This week the media once again focused on the ICC's activities in Kenya. As we reported yesterday, the ICC judges have confirmed charges against four of the "Kenya six." The four include Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto (both 2012 presidential hopefuls), Francis Mathaura and radio-presenter Joshua Sang. Several of those against whom charges have been confirmed have made statements maintaining their innocence and have expressed their intention to appeal the decision.

Charges have been dropped against Henry Kosgey and Hussein Ali. Ahead of the announcement many (including ICC judges) were fearful the decision would prompt violence within Kenya, but those fears appear not to have materialized. The ICC prosecutor issued a statement congratulating Kenya on remaining calm in the wake of the announcement. Ocompo also stated that he will not be appealing the decision dismissing the charges against Kosgey and Ali, although the Office of the Prosecutor will continue investigating their role in the violence. Kosgey has reportedly also commented on the decision, and expressed his happiness that he has been exonerated.

Also in the Kenya case, newly confirmed defendant William Ruto has reportedly reassured the public that he still intends to run for President of Kenya in the upcoming election. The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution has come forward saying that it does not believe the new constitution would compel Kenyatta or Ruto to step down from the race. Whether the two suspects will ultimately be able to run for President remains unclear. Reportedly victims of the 2007/2008 post-election violence are pleased with the confirmation of charges, but remain unsatisfied that the lower-level perpetrators of the crimes continue to walk free. Perhaps to rectify this, the Attorney General has reportedly stated that a new division of the Supreme Court may be created to deal domestically with cases related to the election violence. In other news, there have been conflicting reports about the status of whether Saif al-Islam, Gaddafi's son, will be tried in Libya. Reportedly Libya's justice minister has confirmed that he will be tried domestically in Libya. In response, a spokesperson for the ICC has said that the ICC has not yet made a decision on the matter. Photo credit: Voice of America.

Monday, January 23, 2012

ICC Judges Confirm Charges Against Four, and Send to Trial, for Responsibility in Post-Election Violence in Kenya

Today Pre-Trial judges at the International Criminal Court confirmed charges against four suspects who will now face trial for alleged crimes in connection with post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008. William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang (Case 1) and Francis Kirimi Muthaura and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (Case 2) are charged with crimes against humanity, including murder, deportation or forcible transfer, persecution and rape. Henry Kiprono Kosgey (Case 1) and Mohammed Hussein Ali (Case 2) will not face such charges at this time.

The US State Department made a statement on the Kenya decisions urging "the Kenyan government, the people of Kenya, and the individuals involved to continue to cooperate fully with the ICC proceedings."

The decisions are available on the Court's website:

Confirmation of Charges Decision: The Prosecutor v. William Samoei Ruto, Henry Kiprono Kosgey and Joshua Arap Sang

Confirmation of Charges Decision: The Prosecutor v. Francis Kirimi Muthaura, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Mohammed Hussein Ali

The parties may appeal these decision. In addition, the Prosecutor may submit addition evidence in the future to support charges against Henry Kiprono Kosgey or Mohammed Hussein Ali.

Background information about the Kenya investigation is available in an AMICC factsheet.

Friday, January 20, 2012

AMICC Issues its Report on the Tenth Session of the ICC Assembly of States Parties

ASP President Tiina Intelmann of Estonia presiding over the Assembly's tenth session. UN Photo.

AMICC's report on the tenth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, in which AMICC participated in all aspects, is now available on our website. It includes information and analysis on the following topics:

- Participation of the United States
- Election of New ASP Leadership
- Statements by UN and Court Officials
- Election of the Prosecutor
- Election of Six New Judges
- Establishment of an Advisory Committee on Nominations
- Independent Oversight Mechanism for the ICC
- Amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence
- Approval of the ICC’s Annual Budget
- Report of the ICC Prosecutor to the UN Security Council on the Darfur Investigation
- Eleventh Session of the ASP

Thursday, January 19, 2012

US Ambassador, in UN Security Council, Highlights Important Role of ICC in Ending Impuntiy

Today in the United Nations Security Council, Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, United States Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, made a statement on behalf of the US at a debate on International Criminal Justice and Rule of Law. In it, she highlighted the important role of the International Criminal Court in promoting the rule of law:

One key way in which the international community has signaled that impunity for the most serious crimes will not be tolerated is the creation of international and mixed tribunals, as well as commissions of inquiry and fact-finding mechanisms. Active support by all states for international and mixed tribunals is crucial. We have supported these international accountability mechanisms across the globe, from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to commissions of inquiry in places like Kyrgyzstan, Cote d'Ivoire, and Libya. In this regard, the International Criminal Court can play an important role in contributing to the fight against impunity.

The United States supported the UN Security Council's ICC referral regarding Libya, and we are helping to ensure that those charged by the Court there face justice consistent with international standards. Although the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute, over the past several years we have sent observer delegations to the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) sessions and the Review Conference in Kampala. In December, we cosponsored a high-level panel at the ASP to highlight the importance of ensuring protection for witnesses and judicial officers. We have engaged with the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registrar to consider ways to support specific prosecutions already underway, and we have responded positively to a number of informal requests for assistance.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ICC in the Media, Update #57

This week all eyes have been on Kenya. Reportedly judges at the ICC will announce whether they have decided to pursue charges against the individuals known as the "Kenya Six" for crimes against humanity on January 23, 2012. The Pre-Trial Chamber may choose to confirm (or refuse to confirm) any or all of the charges against the suspects, or may request that the prosecutor provide more evidence.
An ICC spokesperson has conveyed a message from the judges for Kenyans to remain calm in the wake of the decision's announcement. Fortunately a recent report by the African Union indicates that 59% of Kenyans believe that a confirmation of ICC charges against the suspects will not result in violence. As a preventative measure the National Commission and Integrating Commission has recommended that the government set up peace initiatives to handle any violence. Kenyan human rights advocates, including former Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Florence Jaoko, have spoken out in advance of the decision, emphasizing its importance to victims of the 2008 post-election violence. As we have mentioned in previous media updates, suspects Uhuru and Ruto plan on running in the 2012 Presidential campaign in Kenya. In the lead-up to the ICC announcement they have reportedly vowed to continue to run, regardless of the Court's determination. In contrast, Kenya's justice minister Mutula Kilonzo has stated that if the charges are confirmed the suspects must resign from public office and will not be allowed to run in the election. The Kenyan government has not yet confirmed this stance. Photo credit: Capital FM, Voice of America News.

Monday, January 09, 2012

ICC in the Media, Update #56

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

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

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