International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

No Trial Today

Dear readers,

The International Criminal Court’s courtrooms were used for other trials today.  The trial of Charles Taylor will resume again tomorrow. Stay tuned…….

12 Comments
  1. Tracey,
    Could you please answere my 03/23/10, 6;05pm question…thank you

    • Hi Noko5 — the question to which you are referring is this one, right?

      Tracey,
      Just curious; Can a country takes a another country to the ICC for letting its soil to be used by rebles or any form of indurgency against said country? Take for example a Sierraleonean goverment did allow insurection against the people of Liberia before. Could a law suit be file? If so, is there any time factor? If not , why?

      That is a great question and in fact, the ICC is contemplating whether to codify a crime called aggression that can deal with individual responsibility (by military or political leaders) for attacks against another state’s territory that were not in self-defense, for example – but it is not clear that a case like the one you suggest would be covered under the proposed definition of the crime of aggression. And the crime is not in effect yet, so nobody can be held responsible for it at the moment anyway.

      In terms of state responsibility (as opposed to individuals), I am no expert in this area, so I turned to a brilliant lawyer friend of mine that used to work at the International Court of Justice, which deals with issues between states. Here is what he told me in response to your question:

      “There are two different sub questions hereunder.

      First question is who has control of the actions of the rebels. If there is any trace of gvt control, then obviously that gvt is responsible.

      Second question is, did the country exercise sufficient control over its own territory to guarantee it was not used as a basis for rebel actions whereas it could have prevented this from happening.

      The definition of aggression includes includes “(f) The action of a State in allowing its territory, which it has placed at the disposal of another State, to be used by that other State for perpetrating an act of aggression against a third State;”

      The problem is what if a State did not put its territory at the disposal of another State or even just rebel group but rather failed to prevent their action or just tolerated their action.

      Obviously my first thought was Afghanistan and September 11. The justification for the attacks against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was that they allowed Al Qaeda to use the Afghan territory as a base from which they were launching attacks against other countries.

      Although the argument was a bit of a stretch, under the Law of state responsibility, a country can appropriate itself (eg become responsible for) unlawful acts committed by private individuals or even another country if it sanctions these acts ex post facto. So one could say that letting a terrorist or rebel group function on your territory in full knowledge implies that the government is endorsing the behavior/acts of that group and thus responsible for it…..

      In these cases, “tolerance” of armed activities would equate to responsibility for these activities and thus to an act of aggression under international law.

      As far as the ICJ is concerned there is no exact match for such a case…..

      – The reference case for use of rebels is Nicaragua case but in this case the question was whether the US was or not exercising control of the rebels so not to know whether US territory had been used as a base. But the US pleaded collective self defense saying that it helped El Salvador against Nicaragua because rebels were based and acting from Nicaragua. That defense was rejected.

      – In the DRC v Uganda case, Uganda had introduced a cross-complaint saying that Congo had tolerated the action of Ugandan rebel groups based in the DRC and was thus responsible for it. In this case rather than deciding on the merits of the law (whether or not such tolerance would amount to being responsible) the Court just based itself on the facts finding that that “tolerance” had not been established sufficiently.

      So I would say that if a solid case could be made that for instance Sierra Leone had knowledge that their territory was being used and clearly failed to do anything (or what it could) then it would be a respectable legal argument (did not say it would win) to try and hold Sierra Leone responsible.”

      So, Noko5 — I hope that helps. Feel free to ask follow up questions if you wish.

      Best,
      Tracey

    • Noko5 — yes, I have an answer drafted — I am just checking on one more thing and then I will post it.
      Best,
      Tracey

  2. Tracey,

    Not a problem. As the matter of fact, it will more advantageous to the prosecution who always in the habit of asking for more time as the result of them not being ready.

    Not only are we here Tracey, but we are here to stay. We will wait. We will be patient. And certainly, we are motivated to see and hear more exposure of this fake and dismal case against this innocent and peace loving man.

  3. Hi Tracey,
    My thinking was that ICC at this movement was only intented for CGT. Why can’t they wait for CGT case to come to an end.

    • Hi V-Man — I understand why you would think that — the Charles Taylor case started in the ICC courtrooms before the ICC’s own cases even started. But actually, Mr. Taylor is being tried by a different court — the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is normally based in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The Special Court is simply using the courtrooms at the International Criminal Court (ICC) because of security concerns if the trial was held in West Africa. The Special Court has also held other cases as well, and nine individuals have been convicted. You can find out more about the Special Court here: http://www.sc-sl.org. And if you want to know more about the ICC, you can check out ifts website here: http://www.icc-cpi.int. Now the ICC has its own cases going on, and there is not enough space for the ICC’s cases and the Taylor case, as there are only two courtrooms and three trials (the ICC has two of its own running right now). So they have to find ways of sharing the courtroom time. Hope this helps.

      Best,
      Tracey

  4. Tracey,

    Help me here ma’am. I encountered one Australian Student Exchange Today. I asked him what is a KANGAROO and where this idea of Kangaroo Court coming from? He told me kangaroo is an aboriginal Language in Australia, meaning, “I don’t know.” He told me it was during the 17th century when the British came to Australia and saw this animal with a small head, forelimb, long tail, and powerful hind legs used for leaping. He furthered stated that the British asked the Aboriginal(Indian) what kind of animal is this? The Aboriginal respond was Kangaroo, meaning, “I DON’T KNOW”. Since than, that Animal has been called kangaroo. However, he went on to say, Kangaroo court means leap or jump in justice. He described it as proceeding in leaps. Tracey, since you are from Australia, could you please help me here with the meaning of Kangaroo Court and how the word Kangaroo came into existent?

  5. Thank you very much for making me to understand,Tracey.

    • Hi V-Man — glad I could be of help. It is a strange situation with one court using another court’s courtroom so I think you asked a question that many people were wondering about too.
      Best,
      Tracey