ICC Dictionary - Letter S

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - 12:52

By Benjamin Duerr*

The ICC Dictionary is a guide for everyone interested in the proceedings in The Hague. It contains almost 200 of the most important terms and concepts with short explanations in alphabetical order. Justice Hub is presenting a selection of some of the terms highlighted by the Dictionary. 

Self-representation: The right of an accused to defend himself is a human right codified, for instance, in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Rome Statute of the ICC in Article 67(1)(d) gives accused persons the right “to conduct the defense in person or through legal assistance.” However, the right to self-representation has been a controversial issue since accused at the ICTY have used it as a tactic to delay and obstruct the proceedings. Slobodan Milosevic and others repeatedly addressed the chamber in an inappropriate manner and flooded the tribunal with unnecessary submissions. In addition, given the complexity of the proceedings before the ICC, some have argued that individuals without any legal or international experience might be at a disadvantage in preparing the trial without assistance.
 
Sentencing hearing: At the ICC, the verdict and the sentencing are separated and take place at different hearings. After a person has been found guilty, the judges deliberate and - if necessary - schedule another hearing, where the participants present evidence or witnesses and their recommendation for the sentence. During the hearing, the participants try to show, for example, what impact the crimes had on the victims. The prosecutor calls, for example, a representative of a village that was affected. This will be taken into account when the judges determine the sentence. Usually, the final sentencing hearing, when the sentence is announced, takes place one or two months after the conviction.
 
Situation: A situation is a geographically and temporarily limited frame which is defined before investigations begin. During the investigation, the prosecutor identifies individuals and requests to open a case against these persons. For example, a situation was the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1 July 2002. The investigation has lead to the opening of a case against Thomas Lubanga, Germain Katanga and others. Thus, within the situation in DRC, there are several cases. It is important to note that a state and the Security Council can only refer situations and not cases. Thus, they can define the geographical area and the time frame. However, only the prosecutor can decide during the investigation which individuals will be prosecuted.
 
Specific intent: Specific intent, or in Latin dolus specialis, is an essential element for the crime of genocide. A person can only be convicted if it is proved that the person possessed “the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in part” a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Specific intent, usually hard to prove, can be proved for example by speeches in which a politician expresses his intent to eradicate the opposing ethnicity.
 
Stand-by counsel: If an accused decides to represent himself, the judges appoint a stand-by counsel who follows the proceedings but does not intervene. The counsel is on stand-by as an adviser at the disposal of the accused.
 
Substantial grounds to believe: Substantial grounds to believe is the third out of four different thresholds for decisions. This standard is applied for the confirmation of charges. To confirm an indictment, judges have to be convinced that there are “substantial grounds to believe” that the person has committed the crimes.
 
Have a look at the other letters: ABCDEFGHIJLMNOPRTVW and the Numbers 1-10.
 
The ICC Dictionary by Justice Hub and ICCobserver guides you through the complex world of terms and concepts at the ICC.

Benjamin Duerr is a correspondent and foreign reporter covering the International Criminal Court and the war crimes tribunals in The Hague. 

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