• Gregory Turner

Recent International Criminal Court (ICC) News

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has reaffirmed its commitment to prosecute individuals accused of war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and aggression. The Assembly of State Parties has also indicated their support for the ICC during this period[1]. Furthermore, The Trust Fund for Victims remains committed to the victims despite the COVID-19 crisis[2]. Pre-Trial Chamber I accepted amendments to charges against Mr. Al Hassan Ag Abodul Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud on April 23, 2020[3]. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted her request to modify the charges and Pre-Trial Chamber I granted the request. The Court later published the redacted public version on May 11, 2020. The Pre-Trial Chamber amended existing charges to include additional facts, about Mr. Al Hassan’s alleged crimes against humanity. These modified charges now include facts concerning "sexual slavery, rape, persecution and other inhuman acts"[4]. Additional charges were also added including the war crimes of “sexual slavery, rape, outrages upon personal dignity, and passing of sentences without previous judgement pronounced by a regular constituted court affording all judicial guarantees”[5]. The original arrest warrant for Mr. Hassan was issued on March 27, 2018 on the basis of his actions in Timbuktu, Mali. Mr. Hassan was then surrendered to ICC custody on March 31, 2018. The confirmation of charges hearing took place in July of 2019. Pre-Trial Chamber I then confirmed charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on September 30, 2019. Trial Chamber X intends for Mr. Al Hassan's trial to open on July 14, 2020. On May 5, 2020, Prosecutor Bensouda released a statement by video to the United Nations Security Council concerning the Situation in Libya[6]. In her report, Ms. Bensouda commended her office’s work and investigations during the COVID-19 pandemic[7]. She spoke to the focus of her office’s Libya team's work and the challenges faced in arresting Mr. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi[8]. She further committed her attention to Libya's situation and indicated that the Libya Situation "remains a priority"[9]. She finalized her statement by reiterating the importance of accountability for military commanders, and holding them "responsible for crimes committed by forces under their effective command and control"[10] In other news, Pre-Trial Chamber II rejected Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba’s claim for compensation and damages on May 18, 2020[11]. Proceedings against Mr. Bemba began in May of 2008 on charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in CAR. The ICC Appeals Chamber acquitted him on June 8, 2018. However, Mr. Bemba claimed that the ICC proceedings were a grave and manifest miscarriage of justice under 85(3) of the Rome Statute[12]. He also claimed that the ICC mismanaged his frozen assets. However, the Chamber found that both matters were outside the scope of 85(3). Still, the Court took the time in this matter to discusses the absence of the statutory limits when it comes to the duration of ICC proceedings[13]. It found that there was a lack of such limits and stressed the importance of the “Court’s responsibility to ensure expeditiousness of the proceedings”[14]. As a result, the Chamber indicated the need for an urgent review of the Statute concerning duration requirements.

Sources [1] Assembly of the State Parties Press Release ICC-ASP-20200325-PR1521, ASP President, O-Gon Kwon, reaffirms unwavering support for the ICC (March 25, 2020) [2] Trust Fund for Victims Statement, The Trust Fund for Victims remains committed to support victims while navigating the impact of COVID-19 (March 26, 2020) [3]. International Criminal Court Press Release ICC-CPI-2020423-PR1522, Al Hassan case: ICC Pre Trial Chamber I accepts amendments to the charges. (April 23, 2020) [4] Id. [5] Id. [6] Office of the Prosecutor, Nineteenth Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations Security Council Pursuant to UNSCR 1970 (2011) (May 5, 2020) [7] Id. [8] Id. [9] Id. [10]Id. [11]International Criminal Court Press Release ICC-CPI-20200518-PR1523, ICC Pre-Trail Chamber II rejects Mr. Bemba’s claim for compensation and damages. (May 18, 2020) [12] Id. [13] Id. [14] Id.

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