International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Protection Measures: What’s Happening in the Ruto and Sang Trial is Not Unique

At the ongoing trial of Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, and former radio journalist Joshua arap Sang at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the drill is now well established. When the court decides to protect the identity of a witness, a screen goes down on the public gallery; if there is a risk that the testimony will expose the identity of the witness, the proceedings are entirely closed. If the session remains open to the public via video, the face of the witness is disguised with pixelation, the voice distorted.

So far all but one of the 13 witnesses at the Ruto and Sang trial, which opened on September 10, 2013, has taken the stand with their identity cloaked from the … Continue Reading

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Poll: Kenyans Rank ICC Process as the Least Important Problem Facing Kenya

In a new opinion poll, Kenyans have ranked the International Criminal Court (ICC) process involving the country’s president, deputy president, and a former radio journalist as the least important of the problems facing Kenya.

On March 4, independent polling company Ipsos Synovate released the poll, which said that only one percent of respondents expressed that “the leadership wrangles due to the ICC cases” was the most pressing problem facing Kenya. This is a one percentage point decline from a November 2013 poll Ipsos Synovate conducted when two percent of the respondents said that the ICC cases were the most pressing problem facing Kenya.

The difference between this latest poll and the November 2013 one is within the margin of error, which is plus … Continue Reading

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Prosecutor withdraws seven witnesses in Kenyatta case in past year

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC’s) prosecutor has withdrawn at least seven witnesses in the case against President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta over the past year because the witnesses fear testifying, they have recanted their earlier statements to investigators, or for other unspecified reasons.

Following the withdrawal of one witness early in 2013, the prosecution had planned to call 30 witnesses in total in Kenyatta’s trial, which is scheduled to start on February 5. This is what the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) had indicated in July last year in a confidential annex to an application notifying the court of the prosecution’s intention to withdraw three witnesses at the time. The total number of witnesses was made public during a status conference on … Continue Reading

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The place where politics and law collide: the Appeals Chamber’s decision on Ruto’s motion for excusal from trial

Dear Readers – Please find the below article written by Leah Campbell, a former Associate Legal Officer at the ICTY, currently working as an Associate Political Affairs Officer at the UN Department of Political Affairs. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative or UN Department of Political Affairs.

Late last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber overturned the Trial Chamber’s decision to allow Kenya’s Deputy Vice President, William Samoei Ruto, to be excused from attending a significant portion of his trial. Though the trial chamber’s decision was overturned, the legal and practical implications are somewhat measured. Mr. Ruto may still be absent … Continue Reading

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Q & A with International Criminal Court Registrar Herman von Hebel: Part II

Herman von Hebel is the newly-elected Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He spoke with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2013 and answered questions about his experience at other international tribunals, the Registry’s role in outreach, and priorities going forward.

TS: You earlier mentioned the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). How has this job compared so far to past positions as the Registrar for the SCSL and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon?

HvH: It is interesting because this is the third time I have had the privilege of being the Registrar for such institutions. The amazing thing is that every time it has proven to be a completely different job. Although the title is the same and the … Continue Reading

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Implications of Ruto’s possible excusal from trial – Part 3 (Perception)

Dear Readers – Please find the below article, the last of a three-part series, written by Leah Campbell, a former Associate Legal Officer at the ICTY and Associate Political Affairs Officer at the UN Department of Political Affairs. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Much ink was spilled and hands were wrung in filings over how the trial chamber’s decision to excuse William Samoei Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya from continuous presence at trial would make the International Criminal Court (ICC) look. The Prosecution warned that excusing Mr. Ruto would have an “extremely negative impact on how the Court is perceived” and invite “a flood of excusal … Continue Reading

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Implications of Ruto’s Possible Excusal from Trial – Part 2 (What could it mean for the trial?)

Dear Readers – Please find the below article, the second in a three-part series, written by Leah Campbell, a former Associate Legal Officer at the ICTY and Associate Political Affairs Officer at the UN Department of Political Affairs. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

For the first time, the International Criminal Court (ICC) may allow an accused to attend his trial part-time. A decision to allow William Samoei Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya, to be excused from continuous attendance at his trial is currently on appeal. Whether or not the decision is upheld, the fact that the accused is even having such a conversation with the panel … Continue Reading

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Implications of Ruto’s Possible Excusal from Trial – Part 1 (Issues on Appeal)

Dear Readers – Please find the below article, the first in a three-part series, written by Leah Campbell, a former Associate Legal Officer at the ICTY and Associate Political Affairs Officer at the UN Department of Political Affairs. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

On September 10, 2013, William Samoei Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya and his co-accused, Joshua Arap Sang, are expected to stand before Trial Chamber V(A) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and hear opening arguments in their case. Both men will appear voluntarily – a rarity in itself when it comes to international criminal trials – but even more unique is the question … Continue Reading

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Q & A with International Criminal Court Registrar Herman von Hebel: Part I

Herman von Hebel is the newly-elected Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC). He spoke with the Open Society Justice Initiative in June 2013 and answered questions about the work of the Registry and its role in providing administrative and judicial support to the ICC. 

Taegin Stevenson (TS): Could you describe how the registry helps to achieve the International Criminal Court’s mandate to end impunity for mass atrocities and how your role as the Registrar helps carry out this mandate?

Herman von Hebel (HvH): Registrar is a misleading title. I don’t think it covers the job very well. If you compare it with national legal systems either where the registrar is a non-existing concept or where it is an existing concept, but … Continue Reading

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Two opinion polls show support for the ICC drops in Kenya

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has lost public support in Kenya, according to two recent opinion polls, but The Hague-based court remains the preferred option for seeking justice for the victims of the election violence of five years ago.

These are the first polls to be released since Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was declared president in March. Kenyatta faces five counts of crimes of humanity before the ICC, while, in a separate case before the court, his deputy William Samoei Ruto faces three counts of crimes against humanity. Ruto is charged in the same case as radio journalist Joshua arap Sang, who also faces three counts of crimes against humanity.

Public support dropped to 39 percent in June this year, according to a … Continue Reading

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