ASP 14 Day 8: ICC independence at center of final ASP day

8

The 14th session of the Assembly of States Parties concluded today at the World Forum, The Hague. © Matias Bercovich / CICC

The 14th session of the Assembly of States Parties concluded late this evening. States adopted final resolutions on the Court’s 2016 budget, on cooperation and strengthening the ICC system. The Assembly elected a new member of the Trust Fund for Victims’ board and deleted article 124 from the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty.

After difficult negotiations and pressure throughout the week, the Assembly included in its final report language requested by the Kenyan government “affirming” the non-retroactive use of an ICC rule amended by the ASP in 2012 to allow the use of pre-recorded witness testimony in its proceedings. An appeal against the retroactive use of Rule 68 by the ICC prosecutor in the ongoing trial of Deputy Kenyan President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang is currently pending before the ICC Appeals Chamber. It remains for ICC appeals judges to decide on the application of Rule 68.

PLENARY SESSION

Rule 68 reference included in Assembly report

States parties approved to insert Kenya’s requested language on the non-retroactive use of amended Rule 68 on using pre-recorded witnesses testimony in the Assembly’s final report.

States did not include the language in the catch-all “omnibus resolution” on strengthening the ICC and ASP. The insertion of the requested Kenyan language in the final report holds no obligations for states or the ICC.

Kenya had requested that the Assembly “affirm” that the rule cannot be applied retroactively to ICC investigations begun before the 12th session of the ASP (when the rule came into force)

This retroactive use of rule 68 is currently before the ICC Appeals Chamber after the prosecutor used this new rule to introduce pre-recorded witness testimony in the ongoing trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang for allegedly orchestrating crimes against humanity during Kenya’s 2010-11 post-election violence.

It remains for ICC appeals judges to decide on the application of Rule 68.

 

Canada made a statement also on behalf of 34 states to recall the importance of the independence of the Court and to avoid any political interference. Many other states made similarly strong strong statements.

Ahead of the opening of the Assembly, civil society called states to reject an additional item agenda submitted by Kenya on Rule 68. After today’s developments, the Coalition delivered a closing statement before the ASP to reiterate the importance to respect the Court’s independence and to raise concerns on political interference with judicial proceedings.

South Africa’s request to discuss the interpretation of Article 97 in conjunction with article 27 and 98 (on immunities and related cooperation) will continue in the ASP Bureau next year; with language to that effect included in the omnibus resolution.

The session concluded with a powerful speech of ASP President Sidiki Kaba reflecting on the progresses made by the ICC, hailing the valuable role played by civil society in that process. He also rejected anti-Africa bias allegations and called for a stronger state cooperation.

ICC budget 2016

This Assembly set the ICC’s budget for 2016 at €139,590,600. This is an increase of €8,925,000 (6.83%) on the Court’s 2015 budget, but approximately €370,000 less than the budget recommended by the ASP’s Committee on budget and finance. The Court had sought an increase of €22.66 million (17.3%) to cover additional investigations, prosecutions and associated costs.

The ICC prosecutor has indicated that budgetary constraints were impacting her Office’s ability to investigate the commission of grave crimes in several situations, including in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, among others.

Deletion of article 124 from the Rome Statute

The Assembly formally deleted article 124 from the Rome Statute. States agreed to delete this provision on Tuesday but the resolution adopted today makes it official.

According to article 124, a state, on becoming a state party to the Rome Statute, may declare that for a period of seven years after ratification, it does not accept the Court’s jurisdiction with regard to war crimes allegedly committed by that state’s nationals or on its territory. Several Coalition members had been calling for the deletion of article 124 for many years.

Colombia and France are the only two countries to have used this transitional provision when they ratified the Rome Statute.

Trust Fund for Victims elections

Mama Koité Doumbia (Mali) has been elected to the board of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) with 69 of the 77 votes. A strong human rights advocate, Mama Koité is currently  the President of the Malian Coalition for the ICC and the Malian Inspector for Youth and Sports and the President of the Mali Women’s platform. Mama Koité is a Knight of the National Order of Mali, and as an official testament to her moral and professional qualities, she was awarded the National Merit of Mali with bee effigy. One more seqt reqmins vqcqnt on the TFV Board of Directors for the Eastern European region. The region was encouraged to find a consensus nominee for the position and his or her election will take place at a later date.

News coverage

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda: ‘The ICC is an independent court that must be supported’.

Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

ICC President Silvia Fernández welcomes establishment of independent Africa Group for Justice and accountability.

UN General Assembly passes resolution on the protection of human rights defenders.

Ayman Ghoujal: Syrian activist and Refugee.

Heat grows on US for independent probe into MSF hospital strike.

Central African Republic: new wave of killings.

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View and download images from the 14th session of the ASP on the Coalition for the ICC Flickr account.

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One Response to ASP 14 Day 8: ICC independence at center of final ASP day

  1. Kenya Poa says:

    Reblogged this on kenyapoa and commented:
    Rule 68 reference included in Assembly of State parties report

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