By Niklas Jakobsson
The Weekly Hubble looks at current discussions about the International Criminal Court or topics relating to International Justice.
Last week the International Criminal Court opened the doors for a possibly historic step, when it recommended that the opening of the Bosco Ntaganda trial be held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The former DRC militia general surrendered to the ICC in 2013.
In an article for Justice Hub Philipp Schulz lays out how this decision might be in response to past criticism of international tribunals and courts.
“For decades, not only the ICC but also the ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia – the ICTY- and for Rwanda – the ICTR – have been criticised because the trials in The Hague and Arusha are too geographically remote from where the crimes of concern were committed.”
But with the ICC possibly taking the plunge into accommodating trials in the areas where crimes were committed, it opens up a whole set of questions, including safety for all the involved parties and the costs of transport and security.
Although legitimate questions and concerns have been raised regarding the Court holding so-called in situ hearings, there are positive aspects that shouldn’t be overlooked.
But security and finance are not the only concerns. In an article in IJ Monitor outlining the challenges of holding the Ntaganda trial in the DRC, the concerns of the Office of the Prosecutor are also raised.
“Although the prosecution and defence welcomed the idea of holding a part of the Ntaganda trial in Bunia, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) raised numerous concerns, such as whether there was appropriate accommodation for court staff and a suitable trial venue; the intermittent internet connectivity in Congo; and the likelihood that electronic presentation of evidence would be impossible – something the prosecution would require for its opening statement. In its latest feasibility report, the Court’s Registry has clarified that a laptop with a large projector or screen could be provided.”
Since this could be another “ICC first” this year, it’s also worth looking at what this means for the future. One of the big debates after the surrender of LRA commander Dominic Ongwen was whether part of his trial should be held in Uganda.
Now follows a period of waiting for everyone interested in finding out whether the Court will actually go on a road-trip. The ICC itself is acting like a duck on a pond – showing a cool and calm exterior above the water but paddling like crazy under the surface. Security concerns have to be dealt with, budgeting needs to be sorted out and cooperation with/from the DRC needs to be secured. The rest of us can just wait and watch as it graciously floats around the pond.
- Are there any other concerns or issues that would come with a DRC trial?
- Is it feasible to put extensive resources into a 3-4 day trial opening?
- Do you think it’s likely that the recommendation will be followed?
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