Trouble with Lubanga

This is a worrying development for the ICC’s beleagured Office of the Prosecutor.

This week, judges appeared a little narked at the apparent flouting of their authority, and ordered a halt to the proceedings of the Lubanga trial, whilst they deliberations took place over whether the case should continue at all.

Lubanga was the first case that opened at the ICC, and was one that the ICC clearly wanted to win. Or at least, not lose. Depending on the decision of the judges about whether to proceed or not, this could spell disaster for the court.

The heart of the issue is the refusal of the prosecution team to disclose to defence the identity of someone pertinent to the trial. The judges ruled that this prejudiced Lubanga’s right to a fair trial.

The thing about international justice is that it is supposed to deliver a result. There is a kind of unspoken assumption that international justice will secure a conviction and that the defendent, who is being tried, is there for a damn good reason. That is because he is guilty. At least of something.

He’s not supposed to be released.

They knew that at Nuremberg and Tokyo, after the second world war. Churchill wanted to start taking Nazis outside and shooting them, without trial. The Nuremberg tribunal was a more civilised initiative of the Americans. But, even so, the presumption of guilt by everyone concerned was clear.

This presumption of guilt is a lot stronger in international tribunals than in domestic tribunals, which is one of the very real problems with them.

It would be absolutely astonishing if Lubanga was released. And a real setback for the ICC’s mandate to prosecute the very nastiest of war criminals.

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One Response to “Trouble with Lubanga”

  1. A forgotten war « Blake Evans-Pritchard’s Weblog Says:

    […] prosecution almost lost the case on two separate occasions, for failing to fully disclose all evidence that it was party to, which immediately threw into […]

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