A Shifting Scale of Power: Who is in Charge of the Charges at the International Criminal Court?

Authored by: Dov Jacobs

The Ashgate Research Companion to International Criminal Law

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9781409419181
eBook ISBN: 9781315613062
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043157

10.4324/9781315613062.ch9

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Abstract

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, 1 1

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, 2187 UNTS 90, 17 July 1998, entered into force 1 July 2002 (‘ICC Statute’), art 67(1)(b).

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.

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