Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Advocacy for the ICC in the US and US Lawyers at the Court

At the International Criminal Court, there are 656 lawyers enrolled to practice. Of them, 58 are American lawyers. At AMICC, we researched each individual American lawyer to determine if these attorneys could, individually or collectively, contribute to our advocacy. Although we could not find extensive information on every individual, we have analyzed all available information on each American attorney we could locate. An overwhelming majority of the 58 American attorneys are experts in criminal defense law and procedure. These attorneys have been involved with criminal defense and civil litigation, and are specialists in these fields. However, although they specialize in criminal defense, their expertise extends to other subjects.

From AMICC’s research, we have determined that a majority of the 58 attorneys work in private practice. We discovered only a small number of attorneys who work in major law firms. Of those attorneys who do work in such firms, we identified a few senior lawyers and partners in them. After researching each attorney and his or her type of practice, AMICC has identified 38 criminal defense firms with American lawyers enrolled at the ICC.

The number of American lawyers enrolled to practice at the ICC is a meaningful figure. Although the United States has still not ratified the Rome Statute, there is a significant number of American attorneys who have wanted to be enrolled at the Court. While an attorney’s precise reasons for enrolling at the Court are not clear, it is apparent that they relate to his or her preliminary practice of criminal defense law.

Although each attorney’s reason to enroll at the Court may vary, we believe these attorneys have good reasons to advocate for the Court in the US to achieve a growing and more extensive relationship with the ICC. Furthermore, AMICC believes it is possible to bring these 58 American attorneys together to promote the ICC in the United States because each lawyer made the decision to enroll at the International Criminal Court. We will try to do this both creating an informal group and by approaching the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). We will begin the approach by consulting with enrolled attorneys who are also NACDL members. 
                                                                                                          Written by Julia Keenan

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The ICC Prosecutes Destroying Historic, Cultural and Religious Buildings



Palmyra is dynamited. The giant Buddhas of Bamiyan are shot to pieces. Many other historic, cultural and religious sites have been similarly destroyed.  Insurgents make rubble of these precious, beautiful, irreplaceable places to parade their ideology and brand of religion. Now the International Criminal Court is considering confirming war crime charges against a leader in destroying historic, cultural and religious sites in Timbuktu, an ancient city in Mali. The Court heard the charges on March 1 and has until the end of April to decide to dismiss or confirm them. Confirmation will be rapidly followed by trial


Although for many Westerners Timbuktu is still the stereotype of a remote and exotic place, for years it was a center for trade whose profits bought libraries of early Islamic documents and treatises and built the sites. Those mausoleums of saints and a mosque, built in the 13th to the 17th centuries, have attracted pilgrims from across the Muslim world ever since. Their structures and beauty have drawn students of architecture and art worldwide. These buildings and the libraries also made the city a center for scholars of Islamic culture and religion. Timbuktu has advanced human understanding of religion and of the creation of beauty. UNESCO has rightly declared it a World Heritage Site.


The suspect is Ahmad Al Mahdi al Faqi. Frequently described as a radical or extremist Islamist, he is alleged to have been a senior member of the jihadi group which occupied Timbuktu in 2012 and to have supervised for it then the destruction of the mausoleums and mosque. He is the Court’s first alleged Islamist defendant and the first to be charged only for the destruction of cultural, historic and religious sites. This charge has its own paragraph in the Court’s Rome Statute in a section on war crimes committed during internal conflicts. It therefore does not have to be charged in association with other crimes and need not involve loss of life or occur in an international war.


A successful conviction of al Faqi and the decision declaring it would be an important precedent and extension of the Court’s reach. Insurgents’ plans to destroy the historic, cultural and religious buildings treasured by their opponents will not seem quite so safe and free of consequences. Majority groups will have to think twice before annihilating the physical heritage of the cultures, religions and histories of minorities such as indigenous peoples. The Office of the Prosecutor is preparing a policy paper to guide similar such prosecutions in the future. A new dimension in the work and identity of the Court is opening, extending its appeal to potential new supporters and members..


 NOTE:

AMICC now resumes its blog postings. As before, we will cover events and issues about the ICC of general significance to Americans interested in the Court and the US relationship with it.
interested in the Court and the US relationship with it.


Written by John Washburn

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Reparations: The US and the International Criminal Court

Reparations provides redress to victims for crimes. Reparations can take many forms.  According to Redress.org, the four main forms of reparations include restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition: “Restitution is designed to re-establish the situation which would have existed had the wrongful act not occurred.  Compensation should be provided for any economically assessable damage which result from the act.  Rehabilitation is to include medical, psychological, and other cares and services, as well as measures to restore dignity and reputation.  Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition includes verification of facts and full public disclosure of the truth; a declaratory judgment” [1]
 Reparations at is based on a victim’s understanding of justice.  International Criminal Court functions not simply to punish perpetrators of violence, but, also to protect victims against injustice.  It is important to note that:
“The court has the option of granting individual or collective reparation, concerning a whole group of victims or a community, or both. If the court decides to order collective reparation, it may order that reparation to be made through the Trust Fund for Victims and the reparation may then also be paid to an inter-governmental, international or national organization.” [2]
This focus on the needs of victims by the court has led to the establishment of the Trust Fund for Victims.  The TFV was created as a result of Article 79.  This increased push towards victim recognition could be said to be associated with the significant shift in the perception of legal reparations from pre-world war II to now.  The first major request for reparations came as a result of war.  Pre-World War I, reparations had a connotation of payment by national losers to winners of conflict (Buxbaum, 319).  Post-World War II, there was an increased recognition of the importance of individuals and collectives as recipients of reparations.
               While reparations as outlined in the ICC do not appear in US criminal law, there is a history of reparations in the United States.  The most pertinent case is US reparations for Japanese American internment.  However, the word “reparations” is not used outside of this historical context in the US criminal system.  There is, nonetheless, an established system of restitution in place within the US criminal justice system as well as allowances for compensation and civil damages.
               Restitution is provided by those convicted of a crime to their victims.  Upon conviction, the court has the ability to order the defendant to give restitution to victims, if he/she has the ability to pay.  According to the National Center for Victims of Crime website, “restitution can cover any out-of-pocket losses directly relating to the crime.”[3] Compensation is state sponsored and given by the state.  Eligibility must be shown in order for compensation to be granted.  In the US, restitution allows victims financial redress without applying while compensation and civil damages requires action victim participation.  While compensation is not court ordered, civil damages is court ordered as a result of victims winning a lawsuit against the perpetrator in civil court.
               The importance of reparations does not lie only in providing victims with opportunities to gain redress.  The recognition of reparations as an integral aspect of justice demonstrates the importance and focus on victims in the criminal justice system, whether internationally or domestically.  Reparations provides an impetus for restorative justice where the focus is not just punishing criminals, but also sincere attempts to bring back the victims to the status they had previously in some way.

Written by: Chinonye Alma Otuonye

References:
Buxbaum, Richard (2005). A Legal History of International Reparations. Berkeley Journal of International Law, 23(2), 314-346.
Cullinan, Sarah (2001). Torture Survivors’ Perceptions of Reparation: Preliminary Survey. Retrieved from http://www.redress.org/downloads/publications/TSPR.pdf
Goodwin, Catherine M (1998). The Imposition of Restitution in Federal Criminal Cases. Federal Probation. Retrieved from http://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/training/online-learning-center/supporting-materials/Imposition-of-Restitution-in-Federal-Criminal-Cases.pdf
International Criminal Court Web Portal. 2003. Web. 29 October 2015. Retrieved from http://www.icc-cpi.int/EN_Menus/ICC/Disclaimer/Pages/terms%20of%20use.aspx
National Center for Victims of Crime (2004). Restitution. Retrieved from https://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/restitution
Redress. 2001. Web. 29 October 2015. Retrieved from http://www.redress.org/what-is-reparation/what-is-reparation
The Trust Fund for Victims. Web. 29 October 2015 2015. Retrieved from http://www.trustfundforvictims.org/trust-fund-victims, http://www.trustfundforvictims.org/financial-information
UN General Assembly, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, ISBN No. 92-9227-227-6, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3a84.html [accessed 27 October 2015]



[1] Cullinan, Sarah (2001). Torture Survivors’ Perceptions of Reparation: Preliminary Survey. Retrieved from http://www.redress.org/downloads/publications/TSPR.pdf

[2] International Criminal Court Web Portal. 2003. Web. 29 October 2015. Retrieved from http://www.icc-cpi.int/EN_Menus/ICC/Disclaimer/Pages/terms%20of%20use.aspx

[3] National Center for Victims of Crime (2004). Restitution. Retrieved from https://www.victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/get-help-bulletins-for-crime-victims/restitution