International Decision: International Criminal Court, Appeals Chamber, Prosecutor v. William Ruto, Case No. ICC-01/09-01/11, Appeals Judgment on Witness Summonses, October 9, 2014.
109 Am. J. Int'l L. 3, 610 (2015)
8 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2015 Last revised: 23 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 21, 2015
In domestic criminal law, it is taken for granted that a court of law can summon or compel material witnesses to appear before it to give testimony. In international criminal tribunals, for various reasons relating to sovereignty and practicality, the issue is more complicated. The power to compel a witness is therefore not assumed. In fact, it is usually contested -- surprisingly even in respect of the treaty based permanent International Criminal Court. In this case note for the American Journal of International Law, I briefly discuss the significance of the seminal first decision of the Appeals Chamber which clarified the parameters under which the world penal court can summon unwilling witnesses to appear before it to testify. I also address the resulting obligations of states parties to give effect to such judicial orders. It is submitted that the judgment, though controversial, constitutes an important ruling for the future effectiveness of the ICC.
Keywords: power to subpoena witnesses, compelling witness testimony, International Criminal Court, appeals chamber subpoena decision, ICC trial chamber subpoena decision
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