International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Protection and Outreach Cited as Areas in Need of Improvement

International Criminal Court (ICC) Registrar Herman von Hebel agreed to speak with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2014. In the second part of the interview he addresses the witness protection issues at the ICC and what is being done to improve outreach.

TR: In the past year, a large amount of attention has also been drawn to the problems in the court’s witness protection regime. What steps have been taken to address this? Specifically, can you address the Kenya situation where there seem to be the most amount of problems?

HvH: The Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) is one of the most crucial sections of the Registry. Without witnesses – witnesses who are convinced that they can testify without … Continue Reading

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ICC Registrar Discusses Restructuring and Need for Larger Budget

International Criminal Court (ICC) Registrar Herman von Hebel agreed to speak with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2014. In the first part of the interview he discusses the Registry’s restructuring project, how to improve communications, and what it is like working with states parties.

Taegin Reisman (TR): You have undertaken a restructuring exercise, known as the ReVision Project, within the Registry. How long is this process expected to last, and based on what has been done so far, has there been more efficiency in the Registry’s practices?

Herman von Hebel (HvH): The entire project is expected to last about a year and a half. We got started on the first of January this year. I recognize not everyone at … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Defense Lawyer Quits Due to ‘Irreconcilable Views’

Marc Desalliers, who has been the lead defense lawyer for Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has been allowed to step down from the case, after he cited irreconcilable differences with the former Congolese military leader.

The decision comes just as the court’s presidency constituted the chamber that will handle the trial of Mr. Ntaganda for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Trial Chamber VI consists of Judges Robert Fremr (presiding), Kuniko Ozaki, and Geoffrey Henderson.

Mr. Ntaganda, who allegedly served as the deputy chief of staff of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), surrendered to the court in March of last year, nearly seven years after the court issued the first warrant for his arrest.

In his July 14, … Continue Reading

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Victims of Kenya’s Post-Election Violence Still Destitute, Seeking Justice, Six Years Later

Many victims are still destitute, seeking justice or reparations, and are still suffering from the injuries they sustained during the violence that nearly tore apart Kenya six years ago, a new report has concluded.

“My husband remained in hospital for three years. Now he is never awake, he is just sleeping. He has to be carried everywhere,” Grace told Amnesty International. She is quoted in the human rights organisation’s latest report on victims’ perspectives on the post-election violence in Kenya. The report is titled, “Crying For Justice.” Amnesty International released the report last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Grace is one of 49 victims of the bloodshed that followed Kenya’s December 2007 presidential poll who were interviewed in-depth for Amnesty International’s … Continue Reading

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Bemba’s Co-Accused to Remain in ICC Custody

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) last Friday dismissed the appeals of Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo against the pre-trial chamber decision rejecting their request for interim release. The three, along with Jean-Pierre Bemba, are accused of presenting forged evidence and corruptly influencing witnesses in Mr. Bemba’s ongoing war crimes trial before the court.

In a decision issued in an open court hearing on July 11, 2014, a panel of five judges by majority ruled that “no appealable errors have been identified” in the ruling by Judge Cuno Tarfusser for the continued detention of the three suspects. The panel was presided over by Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng.

Judges Anita Ušacka and Erkki Kourula dissented, stating … Continue Reading

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Castresana Gives Recommendations on Strengthening the ICC

Dear Readers,

Carlos Castresana, former head of the UN Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), recently spoke at an event on the future of international justice at Open Society Foundations in New York. In an interview following the event, Castresana emphasized the need for International Criminal Court (ICC) member states and the United Nations Security Council to do much more in support of the ICC. He urged states to play a more active role in dealing with the African Union, saying that “the ASP president should work with African States to resolve the current tensions and remove obstacles to existing cases.” He also insisted that the Security Council must not refer a situation to the court, as they did in Sudan … Continue Reading

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Judges’ Plenary Declines to Disqualify Judge Tarfusser From New Bemba Case

The International Criminal Court (ICC) plenary of judges has declined a defense request to disqualify Judge Cuno Tarfusser from handling the pre-trial phase of the new case against Jean-Pierre Bemba, his two former lawyers, and two aides.

“Distinguishing between allegations relating to the interpretation of the law by the Judge and allegations relating to the conduct of the Judge in the proceedings, the Plenary unanimously dismissed the Applications,” a decision issued on June 23, 2014 reads. The judges found that none of the arguments put forward by the defense teams of four of the accused persons “substantiated any allegations of bias, or the appearance thereof.”

In seeking Judge Tarfusser’s disqualification, defense teams argued that he had issued “unorthodox and legally unsubstantiated judicial … Continue Reading

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Lack of Appeal in Katanga is Unjust, Victims’ Lawyers Say

Notice by the prosecution and defense to the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) that neither party would be pursuing an appeal in the case against Germain Katanga provoked strong disagreement among the legal representatives for victims in the case.

Trial Chamber II, by a majority, convicted Katanga of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by an armed militia during a February 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The majority sentenced him to 12 years of imprisonment, to be reduced by the time he has been in detention during trial.

The legal representative for the “general” victims asserted that the prosecution did not consult him about its decision … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells ICC Ruto’s Name Was in the Envelope

A witness in the trial of Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former journalist Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC) partially answered an issue that has been the subject of speculation in Kenya for almost six years.

Gavin McFayden told the court on Friday that Ruto was one of the people named in what is generally known as the envelope in Kenya. This refers to a list of people who allegedly bear the greatest responsibility for the bloodshed that followed the December 2007 presidential election in Kenya. That violence is the subject of the trial of Ruto and Sang at the ICC.

The Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence drew up the list and sealed it in an envelope that they … Continue Reading

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Witnesses Returned to DRC

The Netherlands has returned three Congolese witnesses, who testified in the trials of Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui before the International Criminal Court (ICC),to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

According to the witnesses’ lawyer, Goran Sluiter, their request for interim measures to prevent their return pending a determination on the issue by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was denied. The ECtHR case is still ongoing, although the witnesses are now in the DRC.

The three witnesses were brought to The Hague in March 2011 to testify in the defense of Katanga and Ngudjolo, who were charged by the ICC with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during an attack on Bogoro, a village in eastern Democratic … Continue Reading

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