RELEASE: embargo 02-07-2009
TRIAL CASTS DOUBT OVER ICC'S
CAPACITY TO PROVIDE FAIR TRIALS
Criminal Court's conduct of the trial of Thomas Lubanga from the Democratic Republic
of the Congo provides further concrete evidence that the Hague-based court is
incapable of staging a fair trial.
Mr Lubanga's defence counsel Catherine
Mabille, addressing the judges, on the second day of the trial last year said:
"How can we have a fair trial under [these] conditions?.... There has
been a wholesale abuse of the rules by the office of the prosecutor."
Ms Mabille was referring to the fact that the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo,
has deliberately withheld information from the defence team provided to the court
by the United Nations that cast doubt on the prosecution's claim that Mr Lubanga
had recruited child soldiers. The ICC Pre-Trial Chamber ordered the release of
Mr Lubanga but the prosecutor's office was successful in preventing this on appeal.
The ICC has still not made public the reasons for granting the prosecutor's appeal.
In the opinion of ICCwatch director, Marc Glendening, Mr Ocampo could
have been investigated by police for attempting to pervert the course of justice
in Britain and other western societies. The ICC is however a law unto itself and
its officials enjoy immunity from prosecution on the territories of the countries
that have ratified the Rome Statute.
Another cause for concern has been
the extensive use of anonymous witnesses, often giving their alleged evidence
in private, and repeating hearsay. This has made effective cross-examination impossible.
The defence team were excluded from half of the pre-trial hearings.
'victim statements' have been made in court whose veracity cannot be challenged
and which can only serve to prejudice the minds of the trial judges.
has been alleged by the Thomas Lubanga's defence team that there has been a huge
discrepancy between the financial resources the ICC has made available to the
prosecution compared to the defence. In the run-up to the trial, the prosecutor's
office had twenty researchers working in the DRC seeking to discover evidence,
whereas the defence could only afford one researcher.
director Marc Glendening has now written to the Public Affairs Office of the ICC
requesting a detailed breakdown of the funding that has been made available to
both the prosecution and defence teams.
The Lubanga trial also highlights
a key charge made against the ICC, namely that it is a politically motivated body
and is incapable of upholding the rule of law. Mr Lubanga was referred to the
ICC by DRC president Joseph Kabila, a political opponent. Officials from the Kabila
regime have been active in the case against Mr Lubanga. The ICC chief prosecutor
has shown no interest in investigating the numerous accusations of human rights
abuses directed at the DRC government and military.
more information concerning ICCwatch's critique of the International Criminal
Court, please refer to www.iccwatch.org
a pdf version of this press release, click here
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