Accountability of International Prosecutors
Law and Practice of the International Criminal Court, Carsten Stahn ed., Oxford UP, 2014, Forthcoming
35 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2014 Last revised: 7 Nov 2014
Date Written: February 20, 2014
The dilemma of holding prosecutors accountable while ensuring their independence was at the center of the debates surrounding the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The drafters of the Rome Statute for the ICC understood that the Court would be handling cases with significant political implications and yet working with limited resources and no independent enforcement capacity. To enhance prosecutors’ ability to operate successfully in this environment, the drafters enshrined prosecutorial independence into the Statute and gave prosecutors significant discretion over charging and investigation decisions. At the same time, drafters worried that ICC prosecutors were not sufficiently accountable to anyone. This led to the decision to give judges and the Assembly of States Parties limited authority to oversee prosecutorial actions.
This chapter reviews how the ICC has addressed prosecutorial mistakes and misconduct in the first ten years of its existence. It evaluates how existing sanctions and remedies for prosecutorial wrongdoing respond to the challenge of preserving the independence of international prosecutors while ensuring their accountability. Finally, the chapter examines whether stricter internal oversight, discipline by external professional bodies, or informal sanctions can usefully supplement existing judicial and administrative sanctions for prosecutorial misconduct at the ICC.
Keywords: International Criminal Court, prosecution, misconduct, accountability, remedies, sanctions, disciplinary measures, Independent Oversight Mechanism
JEL Classification: K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation