By Justice Hub
We recently paid a visit to the permanent premises of the International Criminal Court (ICC) with feet in the sand and a hard hat. These are the answers to the questions asked by the Facebook followers of our sister site, Ivoire Justice.
Why expand the ICC?
It’s an issue of capacity. The new International Criminal Court will have three courtrooms and maybe even a fourth. They will be much bigger than the present two courtrooms. There will be more space for the public, ICC staff, witnesses and victims.
Why now? Why so late?
The Court was established in 2002. Dozens of states had already signed the State of Rome, but there was no building. The Dutch authorities suggested housing the ICC in a former telecommunications building. At the time, the ICC didn’t know what its future needs would be.
200 million euros, isn’t that a waste of money?
The building will cost 204 million euros in total, including 11 million to move to the new premises. The ICC says that in the long run, it’s cheaper to build a new building than to rent an old office building for 7 million euros a year.
Who’s paying for the construction of the new building?
The ICC’s 122 member states are financing the project. Japan is the biggest donor. The Dutch state made the land on which the Court is being built available free of charge.
After the building is finished, will the ICC still have enough money to mete out justice?
The construction work has no bearing on justice, says the ICC. The new building is being paid for separately. In short, the building will not affect justice.
Where is the Court being built? In the bush or in the city?
The new Court is located right next to dunes and the North Sea. It’s 900 metres away from Scheveningen Prison, where suspects like former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Jean-Pierre Bemba from Congo are being held. The centre of The Hague is only 3 kilometres away.
Will the prisoners be transferred there?
No, they’ll remain locked up in prison. Every day the court is in session, Dutch police transport the suspects to one of the cells in the basement. When the trial gets underway, the suspects are moved to the courtroom upstairs.
What are living conditions like for the suspects?
The cells are very much like prison or police cells, but they’re simpler. There’s a bed and toilet, but no computer or gym. Meals are prepared in the prison. Suspects take their meals with them to the ICC. When the court is in session, the suspects spend most of their days at the ICC.
Do Africans have access to the courtrooms?
In principle yes. They have to ask for a letter of invitation. The ICC can send the letter to the Dutch consulate in the person’s country of residence.
How long will the construction work take?
It started in April 2013. The building will be ready in July or August 2015. The move will probably take place in December 2015.
Lead image: New permanent ICC premises (Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen/THTK)
[The article was modified on August 25. The earlier version mentioned that the new building cost 204 nillion euros and another 11 million was needed for the move. According to Eleni Mazaraki, who works for the Project Director’s Office, the 11 million are included in the 204 million.]