Monthly News Update: International Criminal Court – May & June 2019

BY JUAN MANUEL MARTINEZ, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE PILPG-NL

THIS POST ASSEMBLES UPDATES ON THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT. THIS POST COMBINES UPDATES FROM THE PAST TWO MONTHS. LAWYERING JUSTICE WILL TAKE A BREAK FROM POSTING UPDATES UNTIL AFTER THE SUMMER. 

AFRICA

DRC | Judge Ozaki Says No Concrete Grounds to Justify Her Disqualification from Ntaganda Case

Judge Kuniko Ozaki has dismissed accusations by defense lawyers that she violated International Criminal Court (ICC) rules on judicial independence. Judge Ozaki defended herself by stating that her appointment does not contravene any provision of the Rome Statute and that the nature of the two functions does not imply conflicts of any kind. And that her main concern following her appointment was the effective and expeditious completion of the trial against Ntaganda. [June 11, 2019]

DRC | Bid to Disqualify Judge Ozaki Dismissed

The bid to disqualify Judge Ozaki was dismissed by her fellow judges stressing that “the defense failed to demonstrate a reasonable appearance of bias in the Ntaganda case arising from the circumstances of Judge Ozaki’s appointment, ambassadorship, or resignation from the diplomatic post.” [June 20, 2019]

Sudan | Bashir accused of graft, but what about ICC charges?

The  ousted President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir who has been accused by the OTP of the ICC of allegedly committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in the region of Darfur, Sudan has not been handed over to the ICC. [June 29, 2019]

Sudan | Sudan’s Bashir should be handed over or stand trial, says ICC prosecutor

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has called for the Sudanese people to choose between justice and impunity in the case against al-Bashir.  Following the appearance of the deposed President before Sudanese courts on charges of homicide and corruption, Bensouda called for his surrender to The Hague to answer for crimes committed in the Darfur situation. However, she stated that she is ready “to engage in dialogue with the authorities in Sudan to ensure that the Darfur suspects face independent and impartial justice, either in a courtroom in The Hague, or in Sudan.” [June 19, 2019]

 

EUROPE

European Union | Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC 

The European Union and its leaders publicly announced a denunciation of crimes against humanity for their migration policy. This denunciation was made by Juan Branco, a young French lawyer who worked at the International Criminal Court. He stated that it “there can be agreements or disagreements regarding migration politics, integration policies, border control etcetera. However, there are clear limits established by international criminal law.”[June 14, 2019]

European Union | ICC submission calls for prosecution of EU over migrant deaths

A 245-page document, by the two main authors Juan Branco and Omer Shatz, calls for punitive action against the EU’s migration policy after 2014. The report asks for the prosecution of the EU and its member states for the deaths of thousands of migrants, who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya. The document was handed to the International Criminal Court as a legal submission. 

 Netherlands - ICC Prosecutor Signals Important Strategy Shift in New Policy Documents

The Office of the Prosecutor released a draft of its most recent Strategic Plan for this and the next two years, which you can find here. The plan aims to change the strong focus of the ICC on only prosecuting those most responsible for a crime, at the top of the chain command, which often resulted in unsuccessful cases due to constraints in evidence collection. Therefore, the OTP has expanded its target focus slowly to include mid-level perpetrators. This could “have a better prospect of conviction in potential subsequent cases against higher-level accused.” [May 17, 2019]

ASIA 

Myanmar | ICC Presidency assigns the Situation in Bangladesh/ Myanmar to Pre-Trial Chamber III

The Prosecutor of the ICC Fatou Bensouda announced her intention to request the commencement of an investigation into the situation in Myanmar and Bangladesh to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court. According to Bensouda, this request seeks “to investigate alleged crimes within the Court's jurisdiction in which at least one element occurred on the territory of the People's Republic of Bangladesh – a State Party to the Rome Statute since 1 June 2010 – and within the context of two waves of violence in Rakhine State on the territory of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, as well as any other crimes which are sufficiently linked to these events.” [June 26, 2019]

 Myanmar | Military commits war crimes in latest operation in Rakhine State

Amnesty International denounced the official Myanmar military forces which conducted operations against Rohingya civilian population in Rakhine, particularly the 22ndand 55thLight Infantry Divisions (LID). [May 29, 2019]

Malaysia | UN confirms Malaysia's withdrawal from Rome Statute, says Wisma Putra

The United Nations Secretary-General has confirmed Malaysia’s withdrawal as a signatory of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. In April this year, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad informed the ICC of Malaysia’s withdrawal from ratifying the treaty. [May 16, 2019]

Malaysia | Human Rights Watch Urges Malaysia not to quit the International Criminal Court

The Deputy Asia Director of the NGO Human Rights Watch argued that “[b]y quitting the ICC, Malaysia’s government is undermining its credibility on human rights reforms.” [April 5, 2019]