Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Prof. Amann on Bemba Gombo

Prof. Diane Marie Amann has this insightful column in the blog of the European Journal of International Law on the ICC Appeals Tribunal's disturbing decision in the Bemba Gombo case. She writes (justifiably in the editor's opinion):
Friday’s result in Bemba did not occur in a vacuum. Also jumping to mind is Prosecutor v. Katanga. As I discussed in a 2016 chapter (p. 266), there an ICC chamber acknowledged that the illegal recruitment and use of underaged children had been rampant, yet by application of the statutory modes of liability adjudged no accused leader responsible for those war crimes. And University of Paris Professor Pierre-Marie Dupuy similarly has given the label of “A Crime without Punishment” to the International Court of Justice conclusion that genocide did take place in the Balkans, but that no state was responsible. Together, such rulings suggest a turn away from the goal of assigning responsibility at high levels, and toward a jurisprudence which acknowledges (with regret) the commission of crimes, yet holds no cognizable legal person responsible. This latter result offers neither deterrence nor punishment, and it drastically reduces avenues for redress. It is a far cry from the promise of accountability that formed the foundation of the 1990s revival of international criminal justice.

Twenty years after that moment when 120 states affirmed in the ICC Statute “that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished,” it is high time to confront, and combat, an apparent drift away from the assignment of responsibility for international crimes.

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