Criticisms of drawn-out courtroom proceedings have long dogged international criminal tribunals, and the International Criminal Court is no exception. While a measure of feet-finding was to be expected for the Court’s first trials, it is now vital to significantly reduce trial duration to bolster confidence in the Rome Statute system of justice and ensure timely justice for victims. So what is being done to make proceedings more efficient and effective?
The Study Group on Governance
The Study Group on Governance (SGG) of the ASP was established to conduct a structured dialogue between the Court and States Parties based in The Hague, with a view to strengthening the institutional framework of the Rome Statute system and enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Court. The Study Group in 2015 is chaired by Ambassador Masaru Tsuji (Japan) and Ambassador María Teresa Infante Caffi (Chile). The SGG is composed of ‘clusters’ each with its own specific focus. The SGG Cluster I addresses “Increasing the Efficiency of the Criminal Process”, its co-focal points being Mr. Alfredo Fortes García (Peru) and Marisa Macpherson (New Zealand).
The Working Group on Lessons Learnt
The Working Group on Lessons Learnt (WGLL), chaired by ICC President Fernández, is a focus group composed of ICC judges that arose out of a 2012 exercise by the judiciary to identify areas of the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence that might be amended to address inefficiencies in the Court’s earlier years. The WGLL 2012 report stressed the need to simultaneously standardize best practices – an avenue that does not require voting at the ASP.
The most recent result of this approach is the Pre-Trial Practice Manual (manual), which the WGLL issued in September 2015 with an aim to establishing consistent practices among the different pre-trial chambers. The manual guides judges on how to conduct efficient pre-trial proceedings while preserving quality of work. The Manual streamlines evidence disclosure procedures, limits the use of live evidence at the pre-trial stage and suggests reducing the time between initial appearances and confirmation of charges hearings, among other initiatives. The WGLL will update the current manual to reflect harmonized victims’ application procedures and eventually aims to convert the document into a Judicial Practice Manual covering pre-trial, trial, and appeals proceedings.
For years, the Coalition has pressed for comprehensive, institution-wide reviews of the ICC’s judicial processes. The Coalition believes civil society to be uniquely placed to promote dialogue between all the stakeholders in a more efficient and effective Court. Among others, the Coalition advocated for the reform of unsustainable appeals practices as well as consideration for victims’ rights when discussing efficient practices. The Coalition supports initiatives that coordinate efforts between States Parties, Court officials, civil society, and ad hoc and special tribunals’ experts.
ASP 14 Special Session
On Tuesday 24 November 2015, ASP 14 will feature a special plenary session to address ways to increase the efficiency of the criminal process. The Prosecutor, the ICC President, a civil society expert and others will offer views on this crucial topic.
At ASP 14, the Open Society Justice Intiative and the United Kingdom held an evetn on ICC performance indicators.
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