12.07.08 - ICC/TRIALS - ICC COMES UNDER SHARP CRITICISM FROM US-BASED HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

The Hague, 12 July 2008 (FH) - The American organization for the protection of human rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has sharply criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor and its communication policy in a status report presented on Friday In The Hague, The Netherlands.

This report entitled “Courting History: The Landmark International Criminal Court’s First Years,” was written for the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute, on 17 July 1998, at the end of an investigation conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Uganda and in Chad, on the border with Sudan.

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HRW pointed out three main issues in the organization of the Court: the quality of the prosecutor’s investigations, the weaknesses of the
communication of the Court to address, in particular, the populations concerned with the crimes, and the political and financial support of the
states.

Human Rights Watch recommended to the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, to “recruit additional investigators, including experienced investigators,
as soon as possible and prioritize their input in planning and executing the office’s prosecutorial strategy”.

During a press conference Friday, Param-Preet Singh, a jurist in the international justice program at HRW, stated that the investigation
strategy had a significant impact in the regions concerned.

According to her, DRC rebel leader’s Thomas Lubanga case was “not serious” because, in particular, of the weakness of the charges issued against the
former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).

In addition, according to the HRW jurist, the strategy consisting of prosecuting the groups implicated “one after the other” gives the feeling
of biased justice.

HRW also suggested the nomination of a deputy prosecutor for investigations.

Since the departure in 2006 of the deputy prosecutor for investigations,Serge Brammertz, at the request of the United Nations which had named him
to head the international investigation commission for Lebanon, no replacement has been effected.

To support its criticisms on the investigation policy, HRW based itself on the last developments of the Lubanga case, which the trial is for the time
being suspended following the refusal of the United Nations to lift the confidentiality on certain pieces of evidence of the case given to the
prosecutor under the seal of confidentiality.

HRW also urged the prosecutor to open field offices for investigative teams, to collect sufficient evidence “to indict suspects of a
representative range of the gravest crimes which would have been perpetrated.”

During the press conference, Geraldine Mattioli, in charge of international justice for HRW, i pointed out the communication problems of
the Court; in particular, mentioning the rumours which circulated in the DRC.

“In Bunia, for example, the office of the Court [several offices were opened by the Court close to the sites on which investigations are
opened] is called Guantanamo because it is inaccessible to the population,’’ claimed the report.

The organization called for hearings to be held on location. Concerning the Lubanga case, the Democratic Republic of Congo had opposed that such
hearings be organized in Ituri, worried, in particular, about the possibility that such trials might revive tensions in the region.

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