Tag Archives: Central African Republic

Vanuatu Ratifies ICC Treaty

Green Countries Are the Member States of the International Criminal Court

Green are the State's Parties of the ICC, Gold represents the states that have signed the treaty but not ratified it.

Vanuatu has now ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty, becoming the 120th nation to acceded to ICC jurisdiction. The ICC has jurisdiction to prosecute war crime, crimes against humanity and genocide which occurs within the territory of the nations which have ratified the treaty, or committed by nationals of those nations, or when referred to court by the United Nations Security Council.

The court has ongoing prosecutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of Sudan, Ivory Coast, and involving post election violence in Kenya.  There are also indictments from Uganda, though none of indictees, all members of the Lord’s Resistance Army have appeared before the court.  The court has also issued indictments from Libya, upon referral of the Security Council, though one of the indictees, Muammar Qadafi was killed, and the other two are currently in custody in Libya, and may not be transferred to the court.  The past president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo has made his first appearance in the court this week, though Ivory Coast is not a signatory to the treaty, it has accepted ICC jurisdiction.



ICC Announces New Preliminary Investigations

The Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced two new preliminary investigations, in Honduras and Nigeria.  The OTP has previously said there are preliminary investigations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Georgia, and, according to the Hague Justice Portal, Palestine. The court has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed in the territory of the 114 nations who have ratified the treaty, or by their citizens, which are not punished in national jurisdictions since July of 2002.

There are currently four situations where the court has issued indictments, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Central African Republic, and Darfur, Sudan.  The OTP sought and received approval from the court to open a formal investigation into the post-election violence in Kenya, and has said there will be indictments forthcoming soon.

The OTP has yet to issue an indictment, or even seek approval from the court to open a formal situation outside of Africa, which has led to significant criticism from African countries.

The idea of a situation in Afghanistan was previously explored here. The big question raised by the idea of an investigation in Afghanistan is who might be indicted?  The ISAF forces would likely be precluded by the principle of Complentarity.  The Taliban has not been in power during the jurisdictional period of the court.  Establishing command responsibility for atrocities by a member of the Taliban might well create significant difficulties for the OTP.

Q&A on the Bemba Trial

Human Rights watch has posted a Q & A section on the opening of the Bemba trial, the page is available here. Among the facts noted, more than 1200 victims have submitted applications to participate.  Of those the court has approved at least 135.  Curiously, the court has limited the legal representatives of the victims to two lawyers and two assistants, at least at the trial phase.  Whether this will provide effective representation remains to be seen.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was arrested in 2008, the trial began today at the International Criminal Court (ICC).  He is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, murder and pillaging.  A representative of the Office of the Prosecutor has blogged about the trial here. The main allegation against Bemba is the failure as Commander of Chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) to prevent his troops from engaging in a massive campaign of sex crimes. MLC was based in the Central African Republic, though Bemba is a citizen of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Victims in cases before the ICC have a unique opportunity to participate in cases as they go on.  They can examine witnesses, offer evidence and upon conviction seek an order for reparations.  The reparations process is unprecedented in international criminal justice. How it will be enacted and what the victims may receive is yet to be determined.  The first case, against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, of the DRC has not finished testimony.  If there is a conviction, it would then move to the reparations stage.  Though appeals may have to be resolved first.

Bemba Trial to Open

The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is scheduled to begin at the International Criminal Court (ICC) tomorrow, November 22, 2010.  Bemba’s case will be the third trial at the ICC and he is the fourth accused to face a trial.  Bemba is also the first case from the Central African Republic, although he is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The two cases currently in trial arose in the DRC.

Bemba is accused of murder and rape as crimes against humanity and murder, rape and pillaging as war crimes. Bemba is alleged to have been the President and Commander in Chief of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC).  As commander, he can be responsible for the actions of his subordinates if he knew, or had reason to know they were targeting civilians or committing war crimes or crimes against humanity and did not take steps to prevent or end the misconduct.

Bemba was arrested in Belgium in May of 2008 and transferred to The Hague in July of that year.  He had a confirmation of charges hearing in January 2009,in the decision from that hearing, in July of 2009, several counts of torture were dismissed as well as counts involving “outrages against personal dignity” as a war crime.

The court issued its finding on Mr. Bemba’s command responsibility:

Mr Jean Pierre-Bemba neither took the necessary nor the reasonable measures within his material ability to prevent or to repress thecrimes committed by his MLC subordinates throughout the five-month period of the intervention in the CAR. The evidence shows that a genuine will to take the necessary and reasonable measures to protect the civilian population by preventing crimes or even repressing their commission was lacking. Mr Jena-Pierre(sic)  Bemba’s failure to fulfil his duties to prevent crimes increased the risk of their commission by the MLC troops in the CAR at all times relevant to the Case. In reaching this finding the Chamber has given particular weight to Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba’s material ability
to prevent and repress crimes; the availability of a functional military judicial system within the MLC through which he could have punished crimes committed and prevented their future repetition during the period of intervention; the absence of any measures with respect to the crimes committed by MLC troops between November 2002 and January 2003 which increased the risk of their future occurrence; and the length of time taken to announce the troop withdrawal and to
issue an order to this effect, which led to the continuing commission of the crimes at least between mid January to mid February 2003.

Bemba faced short time from arrest to confirmation of charges to start of trial than the prior cases.  It appears the court intends to continue processing such cases rapidly.