Through the Lens of International Criminal Law: Comprehending the African Context of Crimes at the International Criminal Court
Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2011
10 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2011
This article examines how the African context of alleged crimes is presented and evaluated in trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC). It does this by examining the evidence of two expert witnesses, one called by the prosecution and the other by the judges, who testified during the first trial at the ICC of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo regarding the context of crimes in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). What images of the Ituri conflict did the experts convey, what evidence did they provide in support of their claims and how was this evidence deployed and understood by the legal actors? In reviewing the cross-examination of experts, it becomes clear that the defense sought to accentuate the ethnic dimensions of the conflict in order to mount a necessity defense. In its quest for causal connections that allow it to assign guilt or innocence, the court was compelled to apprehend the crimes through a legal framework based upon documented and verifiable facts. Firsthand experience of Africa and more ethnographic and qualitative understandings were generally dismissed by the bench of international judges.
Keywords: International Criminal Court, Africa, expert witnesses, Lubanga trial
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