9 April 2021 – Notices of appeal to Ntaganda Reparations Order, Bensouda statement on Mali and cultural heritage and closing arguments in S&S retrial next week

ICC Accused, Bosco Ntaganda. Photo: heconversation.com via Bing (CC).

Defence and Victims file notice of appeal to Reparations Order in Ntaganda case: On 8 April 2021, the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV) and the Defence in Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda filed respective Notices of Appeal against the Reparations Order, which was issued by Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 8 March 2021.

In the Reparations Order, the Trial Chamber ordered collective reparations with individualized components to be directly and indirectly awarded to victims of the crimes for which Ntaganda has been convicted. The Order held Ntaganda liable for 30 million USD in reparations. Both Notices of Appeal assert that the Trial Chamber made errors of fact, law and procedure materially affecting the Order. However, the scope and grounds of the Notices are distinct.

The OPCV generally welcomed the Order, but has sought the reversal of the Chamber’s findings pertaining to the determination of the scope of Ntaganda’s liability for reparations. The OPCV argued that the manner in which the Chamber established the scope of Ntaganda’s liability for reparations is flawed, potentially resulting in reparations for only a portion of the victims. Specifically, the OPCV asserted, inter alia, that the Chamber: (i) failed to inquire into and obtain an accurate estimate of potential beneficiaries for reparations; (ii) failed to obtain estimates that are as accurate as possible on the number of victims likely to come forward for reparations; (iii) failed to give a reasoned opinion in relation to the way it purportedly resolved uncertainties (e.g. the number of victims) in favor of Ntaganda; and (iv) prioritized the expeditiousness of proceedings over the fairness of the determination of the scope of Ntaganda’s liability for reparations. Ultimately, the OPCV asserted that, due to these errors, the victims in this case doubt the likelihood of the Order to meaningfully address the harm suffered by a potentially very high number of victims, which has not yet been accurately estimated.

The Defence’s appeal is against the entire Order, and argues that the Chamber’s errors in reaching its decision warrant a reversal. Specifically, the Defence asserted, inter alia, that the Chamber: (i) issued the Order prematurely; (ii) failed to inform Ntaganda of his liability; (iii) adopted multiple erroneous standards, interpretations and definitions, including relying on the wrong standard of evidentiary proof regarding harm caused, interpreting indirect victims too broadly, and defining the category of direct victims to include children born out of rape; (iv) wrongly concluded that collective reparations with individualized components is the most appropriate form of reparations to address the harm caused; and (v) ruled on the number of potential beneficiaries by referring to an unreasonably wide range and inaccurate information. The Defence ultimately argued that these errors resulted in an Order that is punitive in nature. (, )


Cultural heritage in Timbuktu, Mali. Photo: cultureindevelopment.nl via Bing (CC).

ICC Prosecutor concludes visit to Mali with statement affirming commitment to addressing destruction of cultural heritage: From 29 to 31 March 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, visited Mali to partake in a ceremony which marked the symbolic recognition of victims of Mr Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who was convicted by the ICC for the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu.

In a statement reflecting on her visit, Prosecutor Bensouda detailed her collaborations with the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims, UNESCO and Malian authorities, and how “joint action and collaboration are essential”. The Prosecutor further expressed her commitment to prosecuting the destruction of cultural heritage, stating, “My Office will continue to do what it can to address these serious crimes, including the assault on cultural heritage – our common heritage”. She stated that her visit to Timbuktu and interactions with community leaders “have only reinforced [her] belief in the importance of accountability for such crimes”. ()


Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic. Photo: balkaninsight.com via Bing.

Closing arguments in Stanisic and Simatovic retrial begin next week: On 12, 13 and 14 April 2021, the Trial Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (MICT) will hear the closing arguments in the retrial of Prosecutor v. Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović. During the three-day hearings, the Prosecution will have four hours to present its closing arguments. The two Defense teams will have five hours in total to present their closing arguments, equally divided between them unless they agree otherwise. The Prosecution will then have one hour to present its rebuttal arguments, after which the Defense teams will have one hour in total for rejoinder arguments. This trial commenced on 13 June 2017 and is the first retrial before the MICT. () 


Post by: Marissa Kardon Weber

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