The Human Rights Watch Report on the Ongwen Case and Beyond: Who should represent the victims at the ICC?

 

The quality of the legal representation victims receive is essential to their meaningful and effective participation in ICC proceedings. 1Independent Panel of Experts, “Report on Victim Participation at the ICC”, July 2013, para. 12


ICC court decisions have repeatedly articulated the need to “ensure that the participation of the victims, through their legal representative, is as meaningful as possible, as opposed to purely symbolic.” 2Human Rights Watch, “Who Will Stand for Us? Victims’ Legal Representation at the ICC in the Ongwen Case and Beyond”, August 2017, p. 9 quoting Prosecutor v. Ruto and Sang, ICC-01/09-01/11-460, Decision on victims’ participation and representation, 3 October 2012, para. 59


Victims’ choice matters because it can be a way for the victims represented to develop confidence that the counsel who stands for them before the court will represent their views, in turn building confidence in the court process itself. 3Human Rights Watch, “Who Will Stand for Us? Victims’ Legal Representation at the ICC in the Ongwen Case and Beyond”, August 2017, p. 11

Last year, in a post following the establishment of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA), I raised an issue which, quite evidently, was on the mind of many Counsel who are on the ICC List of Counsel: the Office of Public Counsel for Victims’ (OPCV) taking over the legal representation of victims, and the subordination of (and running roughshod over) Counsel selected by the victims to the OPCV.

Many Counsel representing, or on the List to represent, victims before the ICC perceived, rightly or wrongly, that they, along with their clients, were being disenfranchised. Perceptions count, especially if the purpose for introducing victims’ participation was to permit victims to present “their views and concerns”4Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (“Rome Statute”), Art. 68(3). and make the proceedings more relevant and meaningful for the victims. Continue reading “The Human Rights Watch Report on the Ongwen Case and Beyond: Who should represent the victims at the ICC?”

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Book Review: Scott Turow disappoints and affronts in Testimony

Few can match Scott Turow’s writing and storytelling abilities. Very few. Over the years he spoiled us with his prose, his canny insight, his attention to detail. His freshman work, One L, was a must-read for a generation of law students. Some of the courtroom scenes in Presumed Innocent are as riveting as they are authentic. And Identical, his last novel before his recently released Testimony, was a true masterpiece, capturing all the nuances of Greek and Greek-American culture.

So, with deep regret, I suggest that if you were looking to escape (or vacate as I put it) from the daily pressures with a good novel – especially one that may hit close to home – Turow’s Testimony is not one of them.  If you have yet to set off for the beach, pull it from your bag and grab something else (perhaps the new John Grisham novel, Camino Island) desist from buying it at the airport while waiting for your flight, and refrain from gifting it to a friend or colleague. Harsh warnings, but I think justifiable. Continue reading “Book Review: Scott Turow disappoints and affronts in Testimony”

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Taking the international out of justice:  An imaginary conversation on the ICC’s Decision on South Africa

A woman dressed in a traditional Sudanese thobe walks out of Courtroom I of the International Criminal Court on 6 July 2017, having heard the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber II on the Situation in Darfur, Sudan – In the Case of the Prosecutor v. Omar Ahmad Al-Bashir. Shaking her head slightly, she has a look of disbelief, visibly upset. She is a Darfur victim, having moved to the Netherlands several years ago. Next to her is a smartly dressed gentleman, obviously someone important – or at least his appearance would so suggest: gold-rimmed round glasses, bespoke summer suit, crisp white shirt, with a stylish Montblanc pen visibly displayed in the pocket of his contrasting vest, glimpses of his tastefully matching Montblanc cuff links and Orbis Terrarum pocket watch, casually knotted bow tie, holding a white Panama hat of definite high quality, and a mahogany handled umbrella – probably an affectation but then one can never be too prepared in The Hague no matter the time of the year.

Omar Ahmad Al-Bashir

Suddenly, without the slightest trace of ambivalence, the woman turns to the gentleman and asks: What just happened? I thought I heard the Judges find that South Africa failed to comply with its obligation to arrest Al-Bashir but then said there was no need to do anything about it? If that’s the case, what’s the point of all of this? I thought the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) referred Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC)? If there is an arrest warrant out for him, how can he have immunity? And if South Africa signed on to the ICC, why is it not cooperating?  I don’t get all this stuff about South Africa having to consult with the ICC to figure out the obligations it agreed to under the Rome Statute.  Continue reading “Taking the international out of justice:  An imaginary conversation on the ICC’s Decision on South Africa”

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Registrar Hosts Consultations on the ICC’s Legal Aid Scheme: so what!?

On 19 June 2016 the Registry of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) hosted a full day consultation seminar on the ICC’s Legal Aid Scheme (“LAS”). The seminar followed the publication of two expert reports by the International Justice Consortium (“ICJC”) and Richard J. Rogers (the ICJC report is annexed to Rogers’ report), which I commented on in a previous post. The point of the seminar was for relevant stakeholders – ICC List Counsel, Counsel from other international(ized) criminal tribunals and courts, and organizations such as the International Criminal Court Bar Association (“ICCBA”) and the Association of Defence Counsel practising before the International Courts and Tribunals (“ADC”) – to exchange views with the Registrar on refashioning the LAS. Continue reading “Registrar Hosts Consultations on the ICC’s Legal Aid Scheme: so what!?”

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The Cambodia Daily – Opinion: Violent Threats Could Spur ICC Investigation

On May 29, 2017, The Cambodia Daily published an opinion piece by Michael G. Karnavas.  The piece appears below:

The Cambodia Daily

Opinion: Violent Threats Could Spur ICC Investigation

by Michael G. Karnavas1   Michael G. Karnavas is a criminal defense lawyer. He was the co-lawyer for Ieng Sary at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and is now Meas Muth’s international co-lawyer in Case 003 at the ECCC.

The Cambodia Daily reported last Friday that Prime Minister Hun Sen gave a speech to 4,000 faithful of Cambodia’s Christian Community on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island.

He claimed that only a Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) win in the upcoming elections will ensure peace and development in Cambodia. Mr. Hun Sen then expressed his willingness to “eliminate 100 or 200 people” if the opposition were to take any actions that would lead to the “overthrow” of the CPP. Continue reading “The Cambodia Daily – Opinion: Violent Threats Could Spur ICC Investigation”

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‘THE SITUATION OF MASS MURDER IN THE PHILIPPINES, RODRIGO DUTERTE: THE MASS MURDER’: testing the ICC-OTP

It was only a matter of time.

Just as Duterte was entreating a crowd at a public gathering “Give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat his [terrorist] liver” because he is “50 times harder” than ISIS, a communication was being lodged against him at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly murdering thousands of Filipinos in his war on drugs. 8000 victims and counting1The communication claims that based on official statistics from the Philippine National Police, there were more than 7000 drug-related killings by police and unknown armed persons from 1 July 2016 to 21 January 2017. The Situation Of Mass Murder In The Philippines Rodrigo Duterte: The Mass Murderer, by Jude Josue L. Sabio, p. 8. since elected as President of the Philippines in May 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has turned hubris – a crime in ancient Greece from the time of Solon in the 6th century BC – into an art form. Continue reading “‘THE SITUATION OF MASS MURDER IN THE PHILIPPINES, RODRIGO DUTERTE: THE MASS MURDER’: testing the ICC-OTP”

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Sentencing Judgment in Article 70 case at the ICC: No accumulation of sentences, suspended sentences & deduction of time

On 22 March 2017, the Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) pronounced the sentences in the Bemba et al. Article 70 case, following its judgment on 19 October 2016, where it found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Narcisse Arido guilty of various offenses against the administration of justice in Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Main Case).

Three interesting points came out of the sentencing: 1) even if an accused is convicted of multiple Article 70 offenses, the maximum sentence he or she can face is five years; 2) the Trial Chamber has inherent discretionary power to suspend a sentence; and 3) time may be deducted in cases where the accused is already serving his or her sentence in another case. Continue reading “Sentencing Judgment in Article 70 case at the ICC: No accumulation of sentences, suspended sentences & deduction of time”

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International Observers to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: don’t count on ne bis in idem

What? The trial of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi was unfair? Shocking!

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) urge Libya to turn over Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of the late Muammar Gaddafi who ruled over Libya for 42 years, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a proper trial.1 United Nations, Support Mission in Libya and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Report on the Trial of 37 Former Members of the Qadhafi Regime (Case 630/2012), 21 February 2017, p. 55, para. 9. Surprise, surprise. Or not! Continue reading “International Observers to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi: don’t count on ne bis in idem”

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It looks like the Gambia is heading back into the ICC fold: but what of Yahya Jammeh?

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, having joined other African leaders in succumbing to the lure of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC)1 See also Gambia Follows South Africa’s ICC Exodus: Quelle Surprise, 31 October 2016. – no doubt out of fear of one day ending up in the ICC dock – departed the Gambia for Equatorial Guinea (a non-signatory to the Rome Statute) under a brokered deal that fell short of granting him immunity for any crimes he is alleged to have committed during his 22-year long reign.2 For more on the terms of settlement, see Antenor Hallo de Wolf, Rattling Sabers to Save Democracy in The Gambia, EJIL:Talk!, 1 February 2017.

But let’s face it: immunity from prosecution for crimes against humanity is much like an amnesty (resulting in total amnesia and total prohibition against prosecution for crimes committed) – a thing of the past.  The days of kicking and screaming into the night as Uganda’s Idi Amin did when he fled to Saudi Arabia are becoming more difficult. The sanctity of sanctuaries is scarcely sacrosanct. Continue reading “It looks like the Gambia is heading back into the ICC fold: but what of Yahya Jammeh?”

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ADC and ICCBA: not a zero-sum game

Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.


Ayn Rand 

We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.


Benjamin Franklin

Commenting on my most recent post “The ADC-ICTY Evolves into an Association of Defense Counsel Practicing before International Courts and Tribunals,” Chima Ayokunle wrote:

As far back as November 2013 you advocated on your blog that ICC ‘List Counsel must form their own Bar’ and ‘Only a Bar of List Counsel, by List Counsel and for List Counsel, can legitimately and passionately advocate for the needs of List Counsel’ (http://michaelgkarnavas.net/blog/2013/11/11/why-establish-a-bar-of-list-counsel-of-the-international-criminal-court/)

After this you were chair of committee drafting the Constitution for a Bar at the ICC and then you ran for president of the ICCBA and didn’t succeed.

It seems a contradiction to me that now you suggest that there could be more than one association at the ICC. Why be involved in establishing the ICCBA if this existing association could do it?

I wonder whether your view would be the same if you had been elected as ICCBA president?

Grateful to Mr. Chima Ayokunle for his musings.  My response: Continue reading “ADC and ICCBA: not a zero-sum game”

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