Research Article


DOI :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009   IUP :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009    Full Text (PDF)

The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC

Ebru Demir

The International Criminal Court’s (the ICC or the Court) status and its judicial practices have been controversial since its establishment in 2002. Critics argue that the Court is used by great powers as an instrument to achieve their political objectives and hence it has long lost its legitimacy. The ICC prosecutor has played a key role in aggravating these criticisms. The ICC’s legitimacy is further endangered by the Prosecutor’s situation and case selection process and the criteria that they have applied. This article argues that the ambiguity embedded in the admissibility conditions in the Rome Statute results in the critique that the ICC is partial, biased and selective. Even though the ICC Prosecutor has recently published various reports in order to make the admissibility conditions transparent, a detailed examination of these reports shows that these criteria are still far from being transparent. The cases analysed in this article manifest that there are different and contrasting understandings of the admissibility conditions even within the ICC itself. This article acknowledges the difficulties that the ICC Prosecutor faces. In order not to overwhelm the ICC with numerous applications, the Prosecutor has to reject some of them. Having admitted that, this article shows that the Prosecutor’s practices regarding the admissibility conditions aggravate the criticisms against the ICC’s legitimacy and objectivity. The examples in this article illustrate that the admissibility conditions were interpreted in a way which contrasts with the Rome Statute itself.

DOI :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009   IUP :10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009    Full Text (PDF)

Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi Savcısına Kabul Edilebilirlik Değerlendirmesinde Tanınan Geniş Takdir Yetkisinin Kullanımında Ortaya Çıkan Sorunlar

Ebru Demir

Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi kurulduğu tarihten itibaren uluslararası kamuoyunda tartışmalı bir yere sahiptir. Mahkeme, politik saikler doğrultusunda hareket ettiği ve bunun bir sonucu olarak da meşruiyetini yitirdiği yönünde çeşitli eleştirilere muhatap olmaktadır. Mahkemenin bu şekilde eleştirilmesinde ve mahkemenin bir meşruiyet krizine girmesinde Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi Savcılarının oynadığı rol büyüktür. Savcının verdiği kararlar ve yaptığı seçimler, mahkemeye yönelik politikleşme ve meşruiyetini yitirme iddialarını daha da derinleştirmektedir. Makalede, Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi Savcılarının olay ve dava seçiminde başvurduğu kabul edilebilirlik şartları incelenmektedir. Bu makaleye göre, mahkemenin kurucu sözleşmesi olan Roma Statüsünde yer alan kabul edilebilirlik şartlarının muğlaklığı ve bu muğlak şartları uygulamada Savcıya tanınan geniş takdir yetkisi, mahkemenin seçici, yanlı ve önyargılı bir şekilde hareket ettiği iddialarının kaynağını oluşturmaktadır. Her ne kadar Savcı, bu şartları şeffaflaştırmak ve uluslararası kamuoyunu olay ve dava seçiminde tarafsız davrandığına dair temin etmek amacıyla çeşitli raporlar yayınlamış olsa da, makalede bu raporların detaylı bir şekilde incelemesi göstermektedir ki kabul edilebilirlik şartları hala muğlaklığını korumaktadır. Ayrıca, makalede incelenen dava örnekleri mahkemenin farklı birimleri arasında da kabul edilebilirlik şartlarına ilişkin anlayış farklılıkları olduğunu net bir şekilde gözler önüne sermektedir. Makale, Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi Savcılarının karşılaştıkları güçlükleri göz ardı etmemekte, karşılaştıkları ve karşılaşabilecekleri problemleri ve zorlukları kabul etmektedir. Ek olarak makalede, Roma Statüsünün bu konuda muğlak olduğu ve Savcılara kabul edilebilirlik şartlarıyla ilgili olarak yeterince yönlendirme yapmadığı da belirtilmektedir. Bununla birlikte, Savcıların uygulamaları incelendiğinde kabul edilebilirlik kriterlerinin uygulanması aşamasında Uluslararası Ceza Mahkemesi’nin meşruiyetine ve objektifliğine yönelik eleştirileri güçlendiren durumların ortaya çıktığı görülmektedir.



EXTENDED ABSTRACT


The Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court’s (the ICC or the Court) founding treaty, requires a state to be unwilling or unable (Article 17) to prosecute international crimes for a case to be admissible before the ICC. In addition to unwillingness and inability, a case should also satisfy the gravity threshold set in Articles 17 and 53 of the Rome Statute. Both unwillingness and inability tests and the gravity threshold are ambiguously regulated in the Rome Statute. The ICC Prosecutor has the authority to evaluate a state’s criminal justice system in order to determine whether it is sufficient to prosecute international crimes and also to make a decision on whether international crimes committed in some part of the world are grave enough to be prosecuted by the Court. It can therefore be said that the ambiguity embedded in the Rome Statute grants wide discretion to the Prosecutor in interpreting and implementing the admissibility conditions.

This article examines the ways in which the admissibility conditions are used by the Prosecutor during the processes of situation and case selection. The article is divided into two main bodies: in the first part, unwillingness and inability and in the second part the gravity threshold are examined. An examination of the former criteria shows that the Prosecutor accepted the self-referral of a willing and able state in contradiction to both the Article 17 and the complementarity principle in the Rome Statute. In addition, the Prosecutor, in various cases, investigated only the crimes committed by the rebel forces and neglected the crimes perpetrated by the regime forces. As a result of such practices, state parties started to cooperate with the ICC with the purpose of defeating the rebel forces in their territories. Thus, the ICC has become an instrument which states could use for their domestic political gains. In the first section, it is also argued that the Prosecutor’s selection of cases mostly from one particular region (Africa) diminishes the objectivity of the Prosecutor. The Prosecutor fails to explain and legitimize the processes of situation and case selection. 

In the second part, the definition and the scope of the gravity threshold are scrutinised. Whereas the Rome Statute refers to the gravity in different articles (Articles 17 and 53) as an admissibility condition, there is not enough explanation in relation to the meaning of the term. This article argues that the ambiguity in the Rome Statute grants wide discretion to the ICC Prosecutor in interpreting and implementing this criterion. With examples, the article shows that the Prosecutor’s interpretation of the gravity threshold is problematic and strengthens the criticisms against the ICC’s legitimacy. The article brings forward reports published by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor with the aim of clarifying the criteria used in defining gravity. Whilst these efforts of the Prosecutor are appreciated, it is difficult to say that the reports have concretised the concept. In this section, the cases of Lubanga and Ntaganda are examined. These cases are of importance since they are specifically related to the gravity issue. An examination of these cases shows that there are different and even contrasting understandings in relation to the meaning and the scope of the concept of gravity even within the ICC’s bodies. 

This article acknowledges the difficulties that the ICC Prosecutor faces. In order not to overwhelm the ICC with numerous applications, the Prosecutor has to reject some of them. During the elimination process, the Rome Statute might also remain unhelpful because of the ambiguity embedded in its wording and the Prosecutor might be given the whole authority and responsibility in the processes of situation and case selection. Having admitted that, this article shows that the Prosecutor’s practices regarding the admissibility conditions aggravate the criticisms against the ICC’s legitimacy and objectivity. The examples in this article illustrate that the admissibility conditions were interpreted in a way which contrasts with the Rome Statute itself. In order to prove the Court’s objectivity and to strengthen its legitimacy, the Prosecutor has to use the discretion granted by the Rome Statute in a more transparent, consistent and impartial way.



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APA

Demir, E. (2021). The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC. Istanbul Law Review, 79(4), 1391-1419. https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


AMA

Demir E. The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC. Istanbul Law Review. 2021;79(4):1391-1419. https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


ABNT

Demir, E. The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC. Istanbul Law Review, [Publisher Location], v. 79, n. 4, p. 1391-1419, 2021.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Demir, Ebru,. 2021. “The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC.” Istanbul Law Review 79, no. 4: 1391-1419. https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


Chicago: Humanities Style

Demir, Ebru,. The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC.” Istanbul Law Review 79, no. 4 (Jun. 2022): 1391-1419. https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


Harvard: Australian Style

Demir, E 2021, 'The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC', Istanbul Law Review, vol. 79, no. 4, pp. 1391-1419, viewed 30 Jun. 2022, https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Demir, E. (2021) ‘The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC’, Istanbul Law Review, 79(4), pp. 1391-1419. https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009 (30 Jun. 2022).


MLA

Demir, Ebru,. The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC.” Istanbul Law Review, vol. 79, no. 4, 2021, pp. 1391-1419. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


Vancouver

Demir E. The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC. Istanbul Law Review [Internet]. 30 Jun. 2022 [cited 30 Jun. 2022];79(4):1391-1419. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009 doi: 10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009


ISNAD

Demir, Ebru. The Problems with the Implementation of the Prosecutorial Discretion at the ICC”. Istanbul Law Review 79/4 (Jun. 2022): 1391-1419. https://doi.org/10.26650/mecmua.2021.79.4.0009



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Submitted31.03.2021
First Revision04.11.2021
Last Revision15.11.2021
Accepted22.11.2021
Published Online31.12.2021

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