A Shifting Scale of Power: Who is in Charge of the Charges at the International Criminal Court and the uses of Regulation 55
THE ASHGATE RESEARCH COMPANION TO INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL LAW: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES, William A. Schabas, Niamh Hayes and Yvonne McDermott, eds., Aldershot: Ashgate, 2013
24 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014
Date Written: December 13, 2011
One issue that has come to the fore in the early practice of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the question of who determines the content of the charges against an accused individual and the scope and timing of any amendments that are to be made. The importance of this issue is threefold. First, having a clear framework for the amendment of charges is important from the point of view of the accused. If he or she is to have adequate time for the preparation of the defence, it is important that there be some certainty as to the charges resting against him or her, without running the risk of multiple amendments. Second, the issues are illustrative of the more general concern in the ICC Statute to achieve a balance between legal certainty and judicial efficiency. The former requires that as few amendments as possible be allowed the more advanced the proceedings are, whereas the latter opens to door to some flexibility to avoid acquittals based on a faulty determination of the charges. Third, as will be illustrated in the course of the chapter, it more generally highlights the difficult balance of power to be struck between various organs of the Court, not just between the Prosecutor and the Chambers, but also between the Pre-Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber, and begs the question as to whether the judges of the ICC ought to have the final say in matters that might seem to relate more to a legislative rather than judicial function.
This book chapter will explore these issues, identifying the current framework at the ICC, and how it was (expansively and creatively) interpreted by the judges of the Court. A large portion of the Chapter discusses whether the Judges of the Court actually have a power to legally recharacterise the facts of the case, in application of Regulation 55 of the Regulations of the Court. The author argues that this Regulation was adopted contrary to the clear content of the Statute, once again illustrating the fact that international criminal judges confuse their judicial role with a legislative one.
Keywords: amendment of charges, International Criminal Court, judicial activism, judicial creativity, Regulation 55
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