Tag Archives: victims

Posts related to victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other atrocities recognized by the Rome Statute.

Ruto/Sang Trial Suspended Because of Kenya Mall Attack

Trial Chamber V(a) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today suspended the trial of William Ruto, and Joshua Arap Sang and excused Mr. Ruto from The Hague for a week.  Ruto is the Deputy President of Kenya, and in light of the recent attack in Nairobi, the court agreed with the defense request to allow him to leave and tend to official duties in Kenya.

The Office of the Prosecutor and the representatives of victims present in the court did not object to excusing Ruto from the trial, but argued against suspending the trial, the court reached this conclusion:

On 23 September 2013, Trial Chamber V(a) excused Mr Ruto from trial proceedings for one week in light of the circumstances in Kenya and subsequently decided to adjourn the trial.

The Chamber noted that the Defence for Mr Ruto has indicated an intention to file a request to the Appeals Chamber on 23 September 2013 for reconsideration of its decision on suspensive effect regarding the Prosecutor’s appeal of the decision excusing Mr Ruto from continuous presence at trial.

The trial is adjourned pending either the Appeals Chamber’s decision on the Defence’s urgent request or the expiration of the one-week excusal period, whichever comes earlier.

On 18 June 2013, Trial Chamber V(a) had issued a decision excusing Mr Ruto from being continuously physically present at trial, except for specified hearings. However the Prosecutor appealed this decision and the Appeals Chamber gave the Prosecutor’s request suspensive effect until a final decision on this appeal is made. This meant that Mr Ruto was requested to be present during all trial hearings pending the final determination on the Prosecutor’s appeal.

Ruto and Sang are charged with Crimes against Humanity including murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population and persecution in connection with post-election violence in Kenya in 2007-2008.  Sang is a broadcaster, Ruto was elected Deputy President in March.  Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta is also set for trial in connection with the post-election violence later this year.  Both trials have faced issues with witnesses withdrawing and refusing to testify at trial.

Court Establishes Reparations Process

Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a 94 page decision describing the process for victims to collect reparations. The order, issued following the decision to sentence Thomas Lubanga Dyilo to 14 years imprisonment after having been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity as leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots for conscripting and using child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The court ordered that most of the processing of claims be delegated to the Trust Fund for Victims which welcomed its new role in a statement. The trust fund reports that it has €1.2 million in its fund for reparations, and that 85 victims have made application for reparations in the Lubanga case and more than 8,000 victims overall.  All applications are to be turned over to the trust fund, though the court will maintain oversight and approve the details.  The court described “five step process:”

First, the TFV, the Registry, the OPCV and the experts, should establish which
localities ought to be involved in the reparations process in the present case
(focusing particularly on the places referred to in the Judgment and especially
where the crimes committed).  Although the Chamber referred in the Article
74 Decision to several particular localities, the reparations programme is not
limited to those that were mentioned. Second, there should be a process of
consultation in the localities that are identified. Third, an assessment of harm
should be carried out during this consultation phase by the team of experts.
Fourth, public debates should be held in each locality in order to explain the
reparations principles and procedures, and to address the victims’
expectations. The final step is the collection of proposals for collective
reparations that are to be developed in each locality, which are then to be
presented to the Chamber for its approval.

The American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court, (AMICC) reviewed and discussed the decision here, noting:

The Chamber noted that since Thomas Lubanga was found to be indigent, reparations will be financed by the Trust Fund for Victims, which tends towards collective reparation

Suggestions by victims and victims groups about the form reparations should take seemed to fall into three categories: reparations to empower victims economically and to stimulate local economic development, reparations to help heal the physical and mental health of victims, and symbolically (sic) reparations like a memorial.

The Trust Fund for Victims welcomed its substantial role in the reparations process and hailed the decision as “a historic milestone for victims of international crimes.” The Fund was set up by the ICC’s governing body, the Assembly of State’s Parties (ASP) in 2002 and currently has a total income of $5.5 million. $2.7 million has been set aside for grants in the DRC and Uganda.

Although the Chamber’s decision is not binding on future cases, the principles and procedures set out may be used by future Trial Chambers where they are practicable. It is possible that in a future case, where a defendant has means, a Trial Chamber may order individual reparations, or a combination of individual and collective reparations.

It appears from the decision that the direction of the court is to order collective rather than individual reparations. If the test is whether or not a convicted party has the means to make whole the victims of the kind of mass atrocities that would come before the court, then it is hard to imagine the defendant with the resources to make to make whole hundreds or thousands of victims after having spent some time in pre-trial detention, trial and appeal.

Lubanga was the first person to be tried, convicted and sentenced by the court, as previously described on this blog:

 Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

 

Court Video on the Reparations Decision (In French).

Lubanga Found Guilty

By Jvhertum (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Schevenigen Prison in the Netherlands where ICC prisoners spend pretrial detention.


Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced a guilty verdict for Thomas Lubanga Dyillo in his war crimes trial in The Hague.  Lubanga was accused of recruiting and conscripting child soldiers as the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, (UPC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the Lubanga Trial blog:

The ICC judges ruled that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Lubanga is guilty of the crimes charged. Judge Adrian Fulford, Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, in delivering the verdict said that there was reasonable evidence to believe that Lubanga was involved in a recruitment drive for his UPC rebel group and that such drive included conscripting children and using them for combat purposes. The judges also found that Lubanga personally used children as his bodyguards.

Lubanga was the first accused brought into the custody of court. Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

The defense has a right to appeal the verdict to the appeals chamber.  Now that there is a verdict, the court may also begin the reparations phase and determine the appropriate amount and form of reparations to the victims recognized and allowed to participate in the case.

What is Left of the Victims Right to Select Counsel?

Trial Chamber IV of the International Criminal Court, ICC, recently ordered that in the Sudan case currently moving towards trial, two lawyers will be representing all victims at the court.  The case, against alleged rebel leaders Abdallah Banda Aadaker Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, is proceeding to trial on the following charges:

  • violence to life, whether committed or attempted, within the meaning of article 8(2)(c)(i) of the Statute;
  • intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(iii) of the Statute; and
  • pillaging within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(v) of the Statute.

The court had previously confirmed the charges, a proceeding roughly equivalent to a probable cause hearing.  The question now, is can two lawyers adequately represent the victims in the case?  A question previously pondered here.   The court in the Bemba case, which has by far the largest number of victims, over 1,600 so far, started the trend by ordering two lawyers from the Central African Republic should be appointed as counsel.

Article 75 of the Rome Statute gave victims a right to seek reparations:

Article 75
Reparations to victims
1. The Court shall establish principles relating to reparations to, or in respect of, victims,
including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. On this basis, in its decision
the Court may, either upon request or on its own motion in exceptional circumstances,
determine the scope and extent of any damage, loss and injury to, or in respect of,
victims and will state the principles on which it is acting.
2. The Court may make an order directly against a convicted person specifying
appropriate reparations to, or in respect of, victims, including restitution,
compensation and rehabilitation.
Where appropriate, the Court may order that the award for reparations be made
through the Trust Fund provided for in article 79.
3. Before making an order under this article, the Court may invite and shall take account
of representations from or on behalf of the convicted person, victims, other interested
persons or interested States.
4. In exercising its power under this article, the Court may, after a person is convicted of
a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court, determine whether, in order to give effect
to an order which it may make under this article, it is necessary to seek measures
under article 93, paragraph 1.
5. A State Party shall give effect to a decision under this article as if the provisions of
article 109 were applicable to this article.
6. Nothing in this article shall be interpreted as prejudicing the rights of victims under
national or international law.

Article 68, Paragraph 3 gives the victims a right to participate and to counsel during the proceedings:

Where the personal interests of the victims are affected, the Court shall permit their
views and concerns to be presented and considered at stages of the proceedings
determined to be appropriate by the Court and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or
inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial. Such views and
concerns may be presented by the legal representatives of the victims where the Court
considers it appropriate, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The ongoing question to be resolved will be, does the court’s practice of appointing very few lawyers prejudice that right?  Will the lawyers who undertake the responsibility be given the resources and opportunities to maintain proper contact with their clients?

The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, has jurisdiction in the 118 nations that have signed on to the Treaty of Rome, or over their citizens, or in case referred to it by the U.N. Security Council, so far Libya and Darfur.  The court investigates charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide occurring within its jurisdiction since the founding of the court which was in 2002.