With international courts and ad hoc tribunals receiving constant criticism, one might think that adding another one to the mix might be counter-intuitive. But last week, 19 NGOs – including Human Rights Watch and many local human rights groups – called for a Special Criminal Court dedicated to fighting impunity in the conflict-torn Central African Republic.
The organisations published what seemed like “Top Ten” post on the FIDH (the International Federation for Human Rights) website. They explained just why this court would be preferable to the legal systems, national or international, currently in place.
One of the key arguments is that the court would have a majority of Central African judges.
But law professor Philip Alston was quoted in the New York Times highlighting this as one of the reasons why this court might stumble before the finish line.
“Central African Republic doesn’t have judges with the independence and the ability to hold accountable the major political players who need to be prosecuted.”
But the Top Ten took this into consideration, highlighting that a mix between Central African judges and international experts would make for an ideal combination.
“Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the UN mission in August 2014, the court would include judges and other experts from other countries, possibly other African countries, to provide proven expertise in the prosecution of international crimes. They will bring their experience in complex fields such as specialized investigations and the protection of victims and witnesses.”
The FIDH call for a court outlines an interplay between the International Criminal Court and a new justice mechanism in the CAR.
“The International Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court will combine their efforts to increase justice in the Central African Republic”
At face value, social media commentators seemed to embrace a Special Criminal Court as part of an ever-growing international justice system.
A key point that runs through the call for a Special Criminal Court is expediting the process and providing justice to victims who have suffered at the hands of warlords for over a decade. This reoccurring theme raised some interesting questions on whether “speeding up justice” was a legitimate reason.
The potential outcome of a Special Criminal Court is a state that takes ownership of this type of issue, something which Uganda was recently criticised for not doing in the Ongwen case.
- What are the major benefits of a Special Criminal Court for the CAR?
- What are the potential issues that the court could face?
- How will this affect the work currently being carried out at the ICC?
Lead image: A French soldier stands guard outside the St. Joseph Cathedral, the site of an attack by Seleka rebel fighters earlier in the month, during Sunday Mass in Bambari, Central African Republic in 2014 (Photo: Tanya Bindra/AFP
The Weekly Hubble features the most popular or controversial international justice story of the past week and reactions on social media to the news.