Michael G. Karnavas is an American trained lawyer. He is licensed in Alaska and Massachusetts and is qualified to appear before the various International tribunals, including the International Criminal Court (ICC). Residing and practicing primarily in The Hague, he is recognized as an expert in international criminal defence, including, pre-trial, trial, and appellate advocacy.
Anybody throwing stones, rocks — like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico — we will consider that a firearm, because there’s not much difference…. Because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.
For the past few weeks, we have witnessed scenes of a caravan of Central Americans, mainly from Honduras, heading toward the US. They are asylum seekers and migrants, escaping extreme violence and poverty. Laden with despair yet armed with hope, they are seeking a better life for themselves, their children, their grandchildren – they are seeking a shot at the American dream. Continue reading “Taking Trump literally: a lethal consequence”
But, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen: any fear that the ICC is a usurper of national sovereignty proceeds from a clear misunderstanding of the nature of the ICC’s jurisdiction. That fear may indeed be implicated in the reluctance of some States to ratify the Rome Statute, as has been expressed around the world, where ratification has not yet taken hold.
But, even for the more able States, the ICC remains valuable – not as a usurper of sovereignty – but as a mirror of conscience. Such is the case where political will appears a little shy to address the needs of justice, behind the veil of sovereignty. It is noted in this connection that war crimes do occur in almost every war. And the culprits can come from the rank and file of the most disciplined and professional armed forces in the world, in spite of the best efforts of their commanders acting with unimpeachable good faith.
ICC President Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, Speech to the United Nations General Assembly
International Criminal Court (ICC) President Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji addressed the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 29 October 2018 with one overarching aim – to assuage the fears of many States and non-States Parties who view the ICC with alarm and skepticism as an organic international judicial institution that aspires to exercise jurisdiction well beyond the narrow contours of what the States Parties had agreed to when signing on to the Rome Statute. Measured, with generous usage of memorable quotes (one of his characteristic trademarks) and a whiff of thou doth protest too much, President Eboe-Osuji’s speech reads like an oblique response to US National Security Advisor John R. Bolton’s criticism of the ICC (see here).
As optimistic as one can be about the potential of the ICC, it is hard not to be a cynic, and even harder not to take with a grain of cynicism President Eboe-Osuji’s representations of the ICC’s abiding caution in exercising its jurisdiction narrowly, conservatively, and judicially. Not that he spoke with forked tongue, but when one looks at the recent Pre-Trial Chamber’s (PTC) Decision concerning the Rohingya, jurisdictional adventurism (mission creep) seems discretely afoot. Continue reading “The ICC is not a usurper: but is it inching towards being one?”
A prince should always seek advice, but only when he wishes and not when others wish. He must discourage everyone from offering advice unless he asks for it. However, he should inquire constantly, and listen patiently about those things of which he inquired…
To paraphrase the Virginia Slims marketing slogan, we’ve come a long way, baby.
For some time, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers’ (KSC) Registrar (assuredly with the blessings of the President) has reached out, repeatedly, to Counsel on the List to represent to suspects, accused, and/or a group of victims before the KSC, encouraging them to establish an association. This is consistent with the intent of the KSC Statute, even though Article 19(4) makes references to an “independent representative body of Specialist Counsel,” with Article 34(7) defining “Specialist Counsel” as Defence Counsel, as distinct from Counsel representing a group of victims, which under Article 34(6) are labeled as Victim’s Counsel. Obviously, the KSC Statute (and the spirit of the drafters) envisages one association for all Counsel (see generally Part 2 of my series on the KSC), as clearly reflected in the Registrar’s letter of 29 May 2018 calling for the establishment of an “Independent Representative Body” by “Counsel”. To suggest otherwise would be to assume that the drafter intended to disenfranchise Victim’s Counsel from providing their input on matters that, among others thing, directly impact their clients, despite Article 22(5) which provides that victims’ groups are assisted and represented by a Victims’ Counsel as provided by the Registry’s Victims’ Participation Office. Moreover, it would not make sense to have two associations, and as briefly noted below and more expansively in the next post, one association, properly structured, can accommodate all Counsel, including in matters when Specialist Counsel’s and Victims’ Counsel’s interests diverge. Continue reading “A Call for an Independent Representative Body for KSC Counsel: thoughts and suggestions – Part 1”
Classic understandings about the demarcation between war and peace are not just quixotic remnants of a bygone era, but core underpinnings of the international legal system that are eroded at the peril of the entire world.
Leila Nadya Sadat, p. 556
Had it been up to me I would have retitled Seeking Accountability for the Unlawful Use of Force (Seeking Accountability) to something like: The International Crime of Aggression: past failures, present shortcomings, and future possibilities. Even if you think you know all there is to know about criminalizing aggression as an international crime, you are bound to find this collection of articles exceptionally rewarding. And if you really want to treat yourself, read it cover to cover as it has been smartly organized and edited by Washington University Law School Professor Leila Nadya Sadat. Spoiler alert: Seeking Accountability is dense, packed with information and source material that provokes and stimulates – not a quick or effortless read. Continue reading “Book Review: Seeking Accountability for the Unlawful Use of Force”
In short, the Peace Pact formed the background of rules and assumptions against which the rest of the new system operated. As states adapted to the transformed legal order, their adaptations helped reinforce those new rules and become reasons of their own for playing by them. The Pact did not bring about the end of conquest and interstate war on its own; no treaty, no law could have. But it was a necessary start, the beginning of the end of the Old World Order.
The Internationalists, p. 335
Tensions around the world seemed to have heightened with the election of U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Maybe it has nothing to do with him; maybe it is just his in-your-face style that tends to make us more aware of how dangerous and volatile the world has become. It is hard to point to a region on the global map and not find a conflict that has just ended, is raging on, or about to start. The most eye-popping conflict started as a civil war in Syria in 2011. The end is not in sight despite the use of an inordinate amount of hard and soft power by regional state players and their proxies, permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations (UN), the European Union, and so on. Red lines have been drawn and crossed, chemical weapons used against combatants and non-combatants, indiscriminate bombings of civilian-populated areas, acts of terror committed with an aim to make life so unbearable so as to bring about death or forced dislocation. All of this and much more in the name of sovereign rights, self-defense, security (national, regional, international), reprisals, deterrence (sending messages), and, of course, peace. Continue reading “Book Review – The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World”
Following the previous post on the Majority’s reasoning in finding that the ICC has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh, let’s look at Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut’s Partially Dissenting Opinion. It exclusively deals with the Majority’s analysis of its legal basis for entertaining the Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) Request.
On 6 September 2018, the Pre-Trial Chamber (PTC) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) reached a decision on whether the ICC has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya from Myanmar (non-State Party to the Rome Statute) to Bangladesh (a State Party). The PTC by Majority held that the ICC has jurisdiction “if at least one legal element of a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court or part of such a crime is committed on a territory of a State Party.” (para. 64) While the outcome of the decision seems correct, the partially dissenting opinion raises concerns, mainly whether the issue was ripe for the PTC to entertain. In this post, I will revisit the Majority’s reasoning on its finding that the ICC has jurisdiction, whereas in the next post I will focus on Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut’s opinion. Continue reading “Revisiting the ICC’s Ruling on the OTP’s Rohingya Request over Jurisdiction: a more critical look. Part 1 – The Majority’s Decision”
You must put no man on trial under the forms of judicial proceedings if you are not willing to see him freed if not proved guilty…the world yields no respect to courts that are merely organized to convict.
Justice Robert H. Jackson, Speech to American Society of International Law cited in Henry T. King, Jr’s The Legacy of Nuremberg, Case Western Journal of International Law 34 (2002), 335, 336
If asked to recommend three books to a newly-minted judge at any of the international(ized) criminal tribunals or courts, but especially at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Jonathan Hafetz’s Punishing Atrocities Through a Fair Trial – International Criminal Law from Nuremberg to the Age of Global Terrorism (Punishing Atrocities) would be one of them. Indeed, I would suggest it as essential reading for judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and any judicial staff. I would also recommend Punishing Atrocities as obligatory reading for any introductory courses on International Criminal Law (ICL).
Jonathan Hafetz, a professor of law at Seton Hall University School of Law, admirably shows the tension between the need for establishing individual accountability for suspects and accused alleged to have committed or contributed to mass atrocities and the need to accord them fair trials based on recognized international principles and standards. Reconciling these two aims has been an ongoing process since the creation of the post-World War II International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and for the Far East in Tokyo. While the divide remains, much progress has been made in affording greater due process to suspects and accused, in part, because of a higher recognition that acceptance of judicial results at the international(ized) criminal tribunals and courts is enhanced and fostered through fair trials and ensuing perceptions. Meanwhile, the experimentation of cobbling together procedural modalities from different legal systems for fairer procedural justice continues. Continue reading “Book Review – Punishing Atrocities Through a Fair Trial: International Criminal Law from Nuremberg to the Age of Global Terrorism”
Q: You probably saw also, Vice President Pence yesterday appealed to you and to Myanmar to let the two Reuters journalists out of jail. I think they got a sentence of seven years. What is your response to Vice President Pence?
A: Well, I think what I want to know is whether they feel that there has been a miscarriage of justice. And you know of course, that due process allows them to appeal the sentence.
Q: But that, I guess, you also as a democratic leader don’t feel comfortable with journalists being jailed?
A: It’s not a matter of… They were not jailed because they were journalists. They were jailed because the court has…. Well, sentence has been passed on them because the court has decided that they had broken the Official Secrets Act. So, if we believe in the rule of law, they have every right to appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgment is wrong, if they consider it wrong.
Interview of Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar by Børge Brende, World Economic Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam
In December 2017, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo came across reliable information (eye-witness accounts and photographs) leading to the uncovering of a mass grave of ten Rohingya civilians in Inn Din, Myanmar, killed during a clearance (ethnic-cleansing) operation carried out in the Northern Rakhine State by Myanmar’s security forces (military and police) and local Buddhists in August 2017. Given the location of the burial site, the ongoing events in that area, the equipment required to dig and cover-up the mass grave, the bulldozing over and destruction of any remaining evidence, and the eye-witness accounts and photographs, it was clear that this atrocity was committed and then covered up by Myanmar’s security forces. Reuters would later write a lengthy story on this and other events (see my post), implicating Myanmar’s security forces along with its proxies – local civilians. Continue reading “Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s remarks in context: is she defending the convictions and imprisonment of the journalists?”