International Criminal Court
Judgment on the Appeal of the Prosecutor Against the Decision of the Pre-Trial Chamber I of 16 December 2011 Entitled "Decision on the Confirmation of Charges" (May 30, 2012)
Click here for document (approximately 33 pages)
The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court ("ICC") has upheld the Pre-Trial Chamber's decision to deny the charges against Callixte Mbarushimana for crimes he allegedly committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Appeals Chamber concluded that in determining whether to confirm charges under Article 61 of the Rome Statute ("Statute"), the Pre-Trial Chamber may evaluate ambiguities, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the evidence, and assess the credibility of witnesses.
The ICC prosecutor appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber's determination not to confirm charges against Mbarushimana, arguing that the Pre-Trial Chamber committed errors of law in concluding that it could assess the credibility, weigh the evidence, and evaluate inconsistencies, ambiguities, or contradictions during the confirmation of charges hearing. The prosecution reasoned that the Pre-Trial Chamber "'should accept as reliable the Prosecut[or]'s evidence so long as it is relevant and admissible.'" The defense disagreed, maintaining that the Pre-Trial Chamber is authorized to deny the confirmation of charges in situations where the prosecution fails to bring forth sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe a person committed the charged crimes; otherwise the confirmation of charges hearing would be "meaningless."
The Appeals Chamber rejected the prosecution's arguments, concluding that Article 61 of the Statute "clearly shows that the confirmation of charges hearing exists to separate those cases and charges which should go to trial from those which should not, a fact supported by drafting history." Furthermore, this procedural safeguard "serves to ensure the efficiency of judicial proceedings and to protect the rights of persons by ensuring that cases and charges go to trial only when justified by sufficient evidence."
European Court of Human Rights
Scoppola v. Italy (May 22, 2012)
Click here for document (approximately 27 pages)
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled in Scoppola v. Italy that Italy did not violated the rights of a convicted prisoner who lost his right to vote when he was sentenced to life for murder. According to the Court, the disenfranchisement was not disproportionate, and the law in question was therefore not a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The applicant, who had several years ago successfully applied to the European Court to have his life sentence commuted from life imprisonment to thirty years' imprisonment for the killing of his wife and the injuring of his son, filed a new claim alleging that Italy's law on the disenfranchisement of convicted prisoners amounted to a violation of the Convention. Relying on Hirst (No. 2) v. United Kingdom, wherein the Grand Chamber held that the general, automatic, and indiscriminate disenfranchisement of prisoners amounted to a violation of Article 3 of Protocol No. 1, the applicant argued that he had been deprived of the right to vote following his criminal conviction.
Disagreeing with the Section Chamber, which ruled in January 2011 that Italy violated the applicant's Article 3 right, the Grand Chamber concluded that although the rights guaranteed by Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 were "crucial to establishing and maintaining the foundations of an effective and meaningful democracy governed by the rule of law," such rights were not absolute. States enjoyed a margin of appreciation in the limitations of these rights. The Grand Chamber differentiated this case from Hirst on the basis that in Hirst all prisoners, regardless of the length of their sentences and the crimes for which they were convicted, were deprived of their right to vote. In this case, the Chamber found that Italy's interference with the applicant's rights pursued the legitimate aims of preventing crime and enhancing civic responsibility and respect for the rule of law, and the interference did not affect a group of people generally, automatically, and indiscriminately. Rather, the voting ban was case-specific and could be challenged after the prisoner was rehabilitated.
Significantly, the Grand Chamber rejected the invitation by the United Kingdom to overturn Hirst, concluding that since that judgment, nothing appeared to have changed in Europe; in fact, "the trend was towards fewer restrictions on convicted prisoners' voting rights." As a result, the Court affirmed Hirst, reemphasizing when disenfranchisement affects a group of people generally, automatically, and indiscriminately, then such limitation is not compatible with Article 3 of Protocol No. 1.
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Prosecutor v. Mladic, Decision on Urgent Defence Motion of 14 May 2012 and Reasons for Decision on Two Defence Requests for Adjournment of the Start of Trial of 3 May 2012 (May 24, 2012)
Click here for document (approximately 10 pages)
The Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has partially granted the third adjournment request filed by the defense in the trial against former Serb general Ratko Mladic, who is currently standing trial for war crimes committed in Bosnia. The Trial Chamber abruptly adjourned the hearing two weeks ago after concluding that a large number of documents were not timely shared with the defense. After agreeing that the defense needed more time to prepare its case given the additional documents submitted by the prosecution, the Trial Chamber postponed the trial until June 25, 2012. The Trial Chamber rejected the defense's request to postpone the trial for six months, finding the one-month postponement "the appropriate remedy."