Background to Case & Charges:
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was transferred to The Hague on 17 March 2006, pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I. His trial, the first at the ICC, started on 26 January 2009 and the closing statements were presented by the parties and participants on 25 and 26 August 2011.
Over the course of 204 days of hearings, the Trial Chamber has delivered 275 written decisions and orders and 347 oral decisions. The Chamber heard 36 witnesses, including 3 experts, called by the Office of the Prosecutor, 24 witnesses called by the defense and 3 witnesses called by the legal representatives of the victims participating in the proceedings. The Chamber also called 4 experts. A total of 129 victims, represented by two teams of legal representatives and the Office of Public Counsel for Victims, were granted the right to participate in the trial. They have been authorized to present submissions and to examine witnesses on specific issues. The Prosecution submitted 368 items of evidence, the Defense 992, and the legal representatives of victims 13. (Source: ICC)
The ICC since actually becoming operational around a decade earlier after adoption by 60 states (now there are twice as many and growing) has pursued multiple cases related to grave violations of international humanitarian law. “At present, 15 cases have been brought before the Court in the context of 7 situations that are currently under investigation: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Darfur (Sudan), Kenya, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. The ICC Judges have issued 20 warrants of arrest (2 withdrawn following the death of the suspects) and 9 summonses to appear. Currently, five individuals are in the ICC custody and 11 suspects remain at large.” (Source ICC)
Most of us who had signed the Rome Statute in 1998 could not have expected such rapid development of the Court. The ICC investigation/indictment of Colonel Gaddafi last year was a milestone. Nonetheless, as events unfold in Syria, there is at least in me sense that ICC could and should be more engaged. Because Syria is not ICC member, the current arrangement necessitates referral from the UN Security Council. As several critical states and three permanent members (China, Russia & US) are not ICC Parties, it is unfortunate if the Court would be employed more on basis of political alignment and/or expediency. There is also an unfortunate tendency that for some “big power” leaders and “mediators” who perceive pursuit of justice and war criminals somehow undermines pursuit of peace. Actually though even antidotal evidence is suggesting the contrary and justice and certainly sustainable peace founded on the rule of law are complementary/mutually supportive.
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By Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey – Follow @MuhamedSacirbey
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