ICJ Media Review: Israel to formally protest ICC judges’ decision to launch an outreach campaign in Palestine Situation

Sunday, August 19, 2018 - 12:25

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about the release of the final brief and victim attendance at closing arguments at the Lebanon tribunal, ICC's Trust Fund for Victims reparations questions for Al-Mahdi case, scheduling of Ntaganda closing briefs and arguments, amicus request and Myanmar’s statement on Rohingya deportation jurisdiction questions, amendments to the ICC regulations on detention and more:

Israel to formally protest ICC judges’ decision to launch an outreach campaign in Palestine Situation

Israeli officials have told the Israeli press that they have lodged a formal protest against the decision of the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber I to launch an outreach campaign in the Palestine situation. It is reported that Israel has lodged the protest against the decision on Information and Outreach for the Victims of the Situation in Palestine, calling the decision “unprecedented” and “politically biased against Israel.” According to a senior official, this complaint comes following meetings held between Israeli diplomats and senior ICC officials regarding the recent developments. The Pre-Trial Chamber I, acting under Article 68(3) of the Rome Statute, issued the decision in late July 2018 following the referral submitted by Palestine to the ICC Prosecutor on 22 May 2018.

Notwithstanding the ongoing preliminary examination into the situation, the Chamber ordered the Registry to establish a system of public information, including a public website and other outreach activities enumerated in the decision for the victims in the situation of Palestine. Given the scope of the rights accorded to the victims in the proceedings, the Chamber noted that “the Court shall permit the views and concerns of victims to be presented and considered at the stage of the proceedings determined to be appropriate by the Court.” The decision further instructed the Registry to submit an initial report no later than 14 December 2018 and to inform the Chamber on a three monthly basis of the progress of its activities concerning the victims in the situation of Palestine. In delivering its decision, the Chamber considered that “victims also have the right to provide information to, receive information from and communicate with the Court, regardless and independently from judicial proceedings.” Since January 2015, the ICC Prosecutor has been seized of the preliminary examination into the alleged crimes committed in occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem from 13 June 2014. (Times of Israel)

The Prosecution at the Lebanon tribunal makes Final Trial Brief in Ayyash case

The Prosecution at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has released its final trial brief in the matter of the Prosecutor v Ayyash et al. The brief has been released in a public redacted format and is available on the STL website, after having been filed on 16 July 2018 and then amended on 27 July 2018. The brief covers the evidence that the Prosecution submits demonstrates that each of the accused was criminally responsible for the actions as charged on the trial indictment, specifically that each was part of a conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack. The brief contains submissions on the methods that the Trial Chamber should use in examining the evidence and the standard of proof to be applied.

It details the evidence against the accused, including the use of particular mobile phones and covert telecommunications networks during the attack, the relationship between the accused and Hezbollah and the method by which a false claim of responsibility for the attack was set up. The brief then details in chronological order the evolution of the conspiracy in its political context, the nature and method of the attack and the subsequent false claim of responsibility. The brief then sets out the grounds for individual criminal responsibility for each of the accused. The accused in this matter, Salim Jamil Ayyash, Hassan Habib Merhi, Hussein Hassan Oneissi and Assad Hassan Sabra, have been charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act and other offences arising from the bombing in Beirut on 14 February 2005 which killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Harari and 21 others. They are each being tried in absentia. The trial opened on 16 January 2014`and the Prosecution concluded the presentation of its evidence on 7 February 2018.(Pros Final Trial Brief Part 1Pros Final Trial Brief Part 2)

Trust Fund for Victims seeks clarification on applying reparations for Al-Mahdi economic harm

In the case against Ahmad Al Faqi Al-Mahdi before the International Criminal Court, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) filed a public redacted version of its request seeking clarification of the eligibility criteria for persons entitled to individual reparations awards related to economic harm. Mr Al-Mahdi was convicted of the war crime of attacking protected buildings in September 2016, and in August 2017, Trial Chamber VIII issued a reparations order awarding individual reparations for economic loss to “those whose livelihoods exclusively depended upon the Protected Buildings.” The TFV’s present request seeks clarification as to the scope of the “exclusive link” required to receive individual awards for economic harm. It considers that there are two possible interpretations of the “exclusive link” requirement, but description of the interpretations are redacted from the TFV’s request. (ICC TFV Request)

Lebanon tribunal victims request attendance at Ayyash et al., closing arguments

In the main case before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Prosecutor v Ayyash et al., the Legal Representative of Participating Victims (LRV) filed a request seeking to allow 17 participating victims to attend public proceedings in the courtroom during the upcoming closing arguments from 3 September to 14 September 2018. The LRV reiterated that the participating victims’ presence would not erode the principle of common legal representation, and that the three legal representatives would continue to express the participating victims’ views and concerns. The request follows an order by the Trial Chamber rescheduling the commencement of closing arguments from 27 August to 3 September, as requested by the Prosecution in light of the dates that Defence briefs are expected to be filed.  (STL LRV RequestSTL TC Order)

ICC Trial Chamber order details Ntaganda closing briefs and arguments

In the case against Bosco Ntaganda before the International Criminal Court, Trial Chamber VI issued an order on closing statements, granting the parties five hours each for the presentation of their respective statements, plus half an hour each for any submissions in response. The Legal Representatives of the Victims of the Attacks were granted one hour each to present their closing statements, and the accused was granted thirty minutes in which to make an unsworn statement. With regard to the order of closing statements, the Prosecution will present its statement first, followed by the Legal Representatives, the Defence, the accused’s statement, and then any submissions in response. (ICC TC Order)

ICC PTC rejects amicus submissions request from Thayninga Institute for Strategic Studies on Rohingya / deportation jurisdiction question

On 6 August, the Thayninga Institute requested leave to submit amicus curiae observations on the Prosecutor’s request for a ruling on the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh (see our earlier post). Its primary legal submission was that Myanmar was not a party to the ICC Statute and, therefore, its provisions concerning deportation, apartheid and persecution did not apply. As a question of fact, it asserted that over 600,000 Bengalis had left Myanmar voluntarily. Pre-Trial Chamber I observed that the submissions did not concern the specific legal question arising from the Prosecutor’s request, that the application was filed out of time, and that Myanmar had not taken up the Court’s invitation to submit observations. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 103, it found that the observations were not desirable for the proper determination of the Prosecutor’s request. (RequestSubmissionDecision)

Press Statement from the Myanmar Office of State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi, says ICC has no jurisdiction

On 21 June, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber invited the government of Myanmar to submit observations on the ICC’s jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh (see our earlier post). On 9 August 2018, the State Counsellor Office of Myanmar issued a press release asserting that the Prosecutor’s request was meritless and should be dismissed. In support, it stated that: the request was made in bad faith; the court incorrectly applied Article 19(3) of the Statute; the court lacked transparency and fairness in its proceedings; the court had permitted amicus curiae submissions that lacked probative value; the court had allowed unsolicited victims applications; the preconditions to the exercise of jurisdiction under Article 12(2)(a) did not exist; and the principle of complementarity precluded the court from exercising jurisdiction. (Press release)

ICC Presidency approves amendments to Regulations of the Registry on detention matters

On 1 August, the Presidency of the ICC approved amendments to Chapter 5 of the Regulations of the Registry, which concerns detention matters. The amendments were intended to keep up with new international standards – notably the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners – and to simplify procedures such as the complaints procedure. The amendments entered into force on 1 August 2018. (ICC Press Release, Amendments)

Photo:Patrick Brennan/Flickr


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