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Critical Issues in the Bemba Confirmation Decision

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 August 2009

Abstract

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued its third confirmation decision against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo,1 the former president of the rebel Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and commander in chief of its military wing, the Armée de Libération du Congo (ALC).2 The decision is, in principle, to be welcomed, since it constitutes a further consolidation of the ICC case law and breaks new ground in some important areas, for example the law of crimes against humanity (Art. 7 of the ICC Statute3)4 and command responsibility (Art. 28).5 From an outsider's perspective it also seems that the Chamber, on the basis of the available (disclosed) evidence, took the right decision when it changed the Prosecutor's liability from (co-)perpetration (Art. 25(3)(a)) to command responsibility. Yet there are some fine legal-technical points where the Chamber did not dig deep enough, incurred conceptual errors, or drew some illogical conclusions. These issues shall be discussed briefly here, not in a destructive spirit but to contribute constructively to the improvement of the future case law.

Type
HAGUE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNALS: International Criminal Court and Tribunals
Copyright
Copyright © Foundation of the Leiden Journal of International Law 2009

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References

1 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, ICC 01/05–01/08, Decision Pursuant to Article 61(7)(a) and (b) on the Charges against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, 15 June 2009 (hereafter Bemba confirmation decision).

2 The ALC entered the Central African Republic (CAR) from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on or about 16 October 2002 in order to support former CAR President Ange-Félix Patassé against insurgents, and left on 15 March 2003; see Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, paras. 101, 126; on the MLC and Bemba's role see ibid., paras. 451 ff.

3 Articles without reference belong to the (Rome) Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC Statute).

4 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, paras. 71 ff.

5 Ibid., paras. 402 ff.

6 Ibid., para. 194.

7 Ibid., para. 194.

8 Report of the Preparatory Commission for the ICC Add. Part II. Finalized draft text of the Elements of Crimes. PCNICC/2000/1/Add. 2., 2 November 2000.

9 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 194.

10 For a discussion with regard to the genocide's ‘intent to destroy’ see K. Ambos, ‘Some Preliminary Reflections on the Mens Rea Requirements of the Crimes of the ICC Statute and of the Elements of Crimes’, in L. C. Vohrah et al. (eds.), Man's Inhumanity to Man. Essays in Honour of Antonio Cassese (2003), 11, at 19 ff.

11 G. Williams, Criminal Law: The General Part (1961), 34.

12 See G. Williams, The Mental Element in Crime (1965), 20 (‘Intention is a state of mind consisting of knowledge of any requisite circumstances plus desire that any requisite result shall follow from one's conduct, or else of foresight that the result will certainly follow’). See also G. P. Fletcher, Rethinking Criminal Law (1978, repr. 2000), 440; M. Elewa Badar, ‘The Mental Element in the Rome Statute of the ICC: A Commentary from a Comparative Criminal Law Perspective’, (2008) 19 Criminal Law Forum 473, at 479.

13 A. Ashworth, Principles of Criminal Law (2009), 170 ff. (171); A. P. Simester and G. R. Sullivan, Criminal Law: Theory and Doctrine (2007), 120 ff. (121). In this sense also I. Kugler, Direct and Oblique Intention in the Criminal Law (2002), at 4 ff., distinguishing between direct and oblique intention

14 The relevant part of s. 2.02(a) reads, ‘A person acts purposely with respect to a material element of an offense . . . if the element involves the nature of his conduct or a result thereof, it is his conscious object to engage in conduct of that nature or to cause such a result’ (emphasis added). See also Fletcher, supra note 12, at 440 ff.

15 B. Bouloc, Droit pénal général et procédure pénale (2006), 238: ‘volonté tendue à dessein vers un but interdit par la loi pénale’ (‘will that aims to realize an illegal goal’).

16 Cf. Crim. 7 janvier 2003, Bull. no.1: ‘la connaissance ou la conscience chez l'agent qu'il accomplit un acte illicite’ (‘the agent's knowledge or awareness that he commits an illegal act’). See also E. Garçon, Code pénal annoté, Art.1, no. 77; R. Merle and A. Vitu, Traité de droit criminal, vol. 1 (1997), no. 579.

17 J. Pradel, Droit pénal général (2006), 463; C. Hennau and J. Verhaegen, Droit pénal général (2003), no. 350 ff.

18 C. Roxin, Strafrecht-Allgemeiner Teil. Grundlagen. Der Aufbau der Verbrechenslehre. Vol. 1 (2006), §12 mn. 7 ff.; S. Mir Puig, Derecho Penal Parte General (2006), 244, mn. 82–3.

19 For some Spanish scholars intención is to be understood as dolus in the general sense or as encompassing both forms of dolus directus (desire and knowledge); see, on the one hand, J. Cerezo Mir, Curso de Derecho penal español, Parte General II. Teoría juridical del delito (1998), 153; on the other, D. M. Luzon Peña, Curso de Derecho penal: parte general (2004), 416.

20 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 352 ff.

21 Ibid., para. 351.

22 See, e.g.,Ibid., para. 368, where it equates it with dolus.

23 See on this important distinction G. P. Fletcher, The Grammar of Criminal Law (2007), 307 ff., 319 ff.; with regard to international criminal law, K. Ambos, ‘Remarks on the General Part of International Criminal Law’, (2006) 4 Journal of International Criminal Justice 660, at 667–8; for an explanation with regard to the structure or system of crime see K. Ambos, ‘Toward a Universal System of Crime: Comments of George Fletcher's Grammar of Criminal Law’, (2007) 28 Cardozo Law Review 2647, at 2648 ff.

24 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 357.

25 Ibid., para. 357.

26 Ibid., para. 360 ff.

27 See Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, ICC-01/04–01/06, Decision on the confirmation of charges, 29 January 2007, paras. 349 ff. (352).

28 K. Ambos, ‘General Principles of Criminal Law in the Rome Statute’, (1999) 10 Criminal Law Forum 1, at 21–2; Ambos, supra note 10, at 20–1; Ambos, Der Allgemeine Teil des Völkerstrafrechts (2002/4), 771; Ambos, La parte general del derecho penal internacional (2005/6), 398–9; Ambos, Internationales Strafrecht (2008), §7 mn. 67, with further references in n. 297. See for the same interpretation Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 362 (‘will occur’ read together with ‘in the ordinary course of events’ close to certainty).

29 Ambos, ‘General Principles’, supra note 28, at 21; Ambos, Allgemeiner Teil, supra note 28, at 771; Ambos, Parte general, supra note 28, at 398–9.

30 See the detailed analysis in Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, paras. 364 ff.

31 Ibid., para. 363.

32 See the reference to the Norwegian and Finnish discussion in Ambos, supra note 10, at 20–1 with n. 37; also Ambos, Allgemeiner Teil, supra note 28, at 771. For the different theories of dolus eventualis see Roxin, supra note 18, §12 mn. 35 ff.

33 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 369.

34 See the seminal article by T. Weigend, ‘Zwischen Vorsatz und Fahrlässigkeit’, (1981) 93 Zeitschrift für die gesamte Strafrechtswissenschaft 657, 673 ff.

35 Cf. Ambos, Allgemeiner Teil, supra note 28, at 700–1, with further references; also K. Ambos, ‘Superior Responsibility’, in A. Cassese, P. Gaeta, and J. Jones (eds.), The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary (2002), III, 823, at 867–8.

36 For a further discussion and references see Weigend, supra note 34, 674 ff. (687); J. Watzek, Rechtfertigung und Entschuldigung im englischen Strafrecht (1997), at 46; American Law Institute, Model Penal Code, (1985), I, 236 ff.

37 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 357 with n. 448. The Chamber in this regard only repeats the imprecise ICTY case law; see the references ibid.

38 Ibid., para. 348. In fact, the Chamber follows insofar the Lubanga confirmation decision, supra note 27, paras. 330 ff., and Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo/Chui, ICC-01/04–01/07, Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, 30 September 2008, paras. 480 ff.

39 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 350.

40 Ibid., para. 351.

41 Lubanga confirmation decision, supra note 27, para. 349 ff., 360 (ii); Katanga confirmation decision, supra note 38, para. 533. The Chamber quotes these decisions with pages.

42 Lubanga confirmation decision, supra note 27, paras. 366–367.

43 Katanga confirmation decision, supra note 38, paras. 534–535.

44 Ibid., para. 535 (‘last requirement does not apply’).

45 The point was made by the defence; see Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 345 (‘indirect co-perpetrator’).

46 Ibid., paras. 372, 400–401.

47 See Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, ICC 01/05–01/08, Prosecution's Application for Leave to Appeal the Decision Pursuant to Article 61(7)(a) and (b) on the Charges against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, 22 June 2009 (hereafter Prosecution's leave to appeal).

48 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, paras. 478 ff. (478, 489).

49 Ibid., para. 479 (‘distinction between the knowledge required under article 30(3) [i.e. for Article 25] and article 28(a)’).

50 Cf. G. Werle and F. Jessberger, ‘“Unless Otherwise Provided”: Article 30 of the ICC Statute and the Mental Element of Crimes under International Criminal Law’, (2005) 3 Journal of International Criminal Justice 35.

51 Cf. Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 479: ‘Under article 30 of the Statute the person is aware of the occurrence of a result of his own act . . . while this is not the case with article 28, where the person does not participate in the commission of the crime (i.e., the crime is not a direct result of his own act)’ (emphasis added).

52 Ibid., para. 479 (as quoted in note 51supra).

53 The Chamber limits itself to a little profound statement in para. 405. For my view see Ambos, supra note 35, at 850 ff.; Ambos, Allgemeiner Teil, supra note 28, at 666 ff.; Ambos, Parte general, supra note 28, at 295 ff.

54 See Lubanga confirmation decision, supra note 27, para. 343 ff. (although requiring awareness as to the risk of a commission of a crime by implementation of the plan); Katanga confirmation decision, supra note 38, paras. 522–523 (strictly objective).

55 See Lubanga confirmation decision, supra note 27, paras. 346 ff. (‘coordinated essential contribution by each co-perpetrator’); Katanga confirmation decision, supra note 38, paras. 524 ff.

56 See Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 423 with further references in n. 550.

57 Ibid., para. 420 ff. (423). See for a customary law rule in this respect G. Mettraux, The Law of Command Responsibility (2009), 83 ff. (87), 263.

58 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 425.

59 Ibid., para. 425 (‘effect of an omission cannot be empirically determined with certainty’, ‘not be practical to predict exactly what would have happened if’).

60 Before its conclusion (‘[T]herefore’) the Chamber states that ‘[T]here is no direct causal link that needs to be established’ (Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 425).

61 Ambos, supra note 35, at 860.

62 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 425 (‘to apply a “but for test”, in the sense that, but for the superior's failure to fulfil his duty to take reasonable and necessary measures to prevent crimes, those crimes would not have been committed by his forces.’)

63 See, e.g., on the ‘probability theory’ R. Arnold, in O. Triffterer (ed.), Commentary on the Rome Statute of the ICC (2008), Article 28 mn. 109.

64 See recently Mettraux, supra note 57, at 87, defining the causality as a ‘significant – though not necessarily the sole – contributing factor’.

65 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 434.

66 For a discussion and further references see Ambos, in Cassese et al., supra note 35, at 865 ff. See more recently Arnold, supra note 63, mn. 97, concluding that ‘notwithstanding a slightly different wording, the applicable test is still whether someone, on the basis of the available information, had reason to know in the sense of Add. Prot. I’ (emphasis in the original).

67 S/RES 827 (1993) 25 May 1993, reprinted in 32 ILM 1203 (1993), para. 56.

68 According to MPC, s. 2.02(2)(d), a person acts negligently ‘when he should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk ‘.

69 Mettraux, supra note 57, at 210.

70 Cf. ibid., at 212; see also Arnold, as quoted in note 66supra.

71 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 199 ff.

72 Prosecutor v. Delalić et al., App. Judgment 20 Feb. 2001, Case No. IT-96–21-A, para. 412 (quoted by Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, in fn. 277). For an analysis see A. Bogdan, ‘Cumulative charges, convictions and sentencing at the Ad Hoc International Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda’, (2002) 3 Melbourne Journal of International Law 1, at 20 ff.; N. Valabhji, ‘Cumulative convictions based on the same acts under the Statute of the ICTY’, (2002) 10 Tulane Journal of International and Comparative Law 185, at 191 ff.; H. Azari, ‘Le critère Celebici du cumul des déclarations de culpabilité en droit pénal international’, (2007) 1 Revue de Science Criminelle et de droit pénal comparé, 1, at 4 ff.

73 Prosecutor v. Delalić et al., supra note 72 para. 202. The same test, known in common law as ‘Blockburger test’ (see S. Walther, ‘Cumulation of Offences’, in Cassese et al., supra note 35, 475, at 490; C.-F. Stuckenberg, ‘Multiplicity of Offences: Concursus Delictorum’, in H. Fischer, C. Kress, and S. R. Lüder (eds.), International and National Prosecutions under International Law (2001), 559, at 581; Bogdan, supra note 72, at 12; Azari, supra note 72, at 3), has been applied earlier by the ICTY in Prosecutor v. Kupreškić, Trial Judgement, 14 Jan. 2000, IT-95–16-T, paras. 668 ff. and by the ICTR in Prosecutor v. Kayishema and Ruzindana, Trial Judgement 21 May 1999, ICTR 95–1-T, paras. 636 ff. (see Walther, supra, at 489 ff.; Stuckenberg, supra, at 579 ff.; Bogdan, supra note 72, at 9 ff., 17 ff.; Valabhji, supra note 72, at 188–9 ff.; on the Kupreškić Appeals Judgement in this respect, F. M. Palombino, ‘Should Genocide Subsume Crimes against Humanity?’, 3 Journal of International Criminal Justice 778 (2005); on Kayishema and Ruzindana, K. Ambos and S. Wirth, ‘Commentary’, in A. Klip and G. Sluiter (eds.), Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals, Vol. 2, The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda 1994–1999 (2001), 701 ff.).

74 ‘Delictorum’, not ‘delictiorum’ (genitive plural from ‘delictum’, Lat. = offence) as incorrectly quoted in Bogdan, supra note 72, at 1 and passim (he furthers speaks of ‘poene’ instead of ‘poena’, at 31).

75 For the basic structure see Ambos and Wirth, supra note 73, at 701 ff. For an excellent and profound structural analysis see Stuckenberg, supra note 73, 559 ff.; for the different forms of concours from a comparative perspective see I. Hünerbein, Straftatkonkurrenzen im Völkerstrafrecht (2005), at 30 ff. (Germany and common law); S. Walther, supra note 73, at 478 ff. (Germany and Anglo-American approach); Azari, supra note 72, at 14 ff. (France and United States).

76 The concours idéal must be distinguished from the – here inapplicable – concours réel (concurso real, Realkonkurrenz) where several, separate acts fulfil (different) offences; see Ambos and Wirth, supra note 73, at 703.

77 For a profound conceptual discussion see Stuckenberg, supra note 73, at 586 ff.; see also Azari, supra note 72, at 4 identifying the Čelebići test with the principle of ‘specialité réciproque’; on this principle see also Palombino, supra note 73, 782 ff.

78 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, paras. 205, 312.

79 Ibid., para. 204.

80 Ibid., para. 310.

81 For a different view (still without detailed reasoning) see Prosecution's Application for Leave to Appeal, supra note 47, paras. 16, 17 (as to rape and torture).

82 On the interdependence see also Stuckenberg, supra note 73, at 589–90, 594, 604 (589: ‘[W]here cumulative convictions cannot be had, it makes no sense to allow cumulative charges’); Walther, supra note 73, at 493; Bogdan, supra note 72, at 3. This interdependence is overlooked by the Prosecution's Application for Leave to Appeal, supra note 47, para. 16, arguing that the authority invoked by the Pre-Trial Chamber does not prohibit cumulative charging but convictions.

83 Bemba confirmation decision, supra note 1, para. 204.

84 See in casu ibid., para. 206 ff.

85 On the common law origin see Bogdan, supra note 72, at 2–3, 31 (‘common law's pragmatic approach to cumulative charging’). It is worthwhile recalling that even the Čelebići Appeals Chamber approved the practice (cf. Prosecutor v. Delalić et al., supra note 72, para. 400).

86 See on these functions Walther, supra note 73, at 477–8.

87 Prosecutor v. Bemba, Decision Adjourning the Hearing Pursuant to Article 67(7)(c)(ii) of the Rome Statute, 3 March 2009 (ICC-01/05–01/08–388), para. 38.

88 Ibid., para. 39.

89 See C. Stahn, ‘Modification of the Legal Characterization of Facts in the ICC System: A Portrayal of Regulation 55’, (2005) 16Criminal Law Forum 1, at 16–17, arguing that Regulation 55 only ‘crystallize[s] and refine[s]’ the Trial Chamber's modification competence which is ‘implanted’ in Articles 74(2) and 64(6)(f) of the Statute and may be inferred from the Chamber's implied powers.

90 K. Ambos and D. Miller, ‘Structure and Function of the Confirmation Procedure before the ICC from a Comparative Perspective’ (2007) 7 International Criminal Law Review 335, at 359–60, with a comparative analysis of the question of a judicial proprio motu power to amend the indictment on pp. 348 ff.

91 See for the full text of this new rule Ambos and Miller, supra note 90, at 360.

92 Prosecution's Application for Leave to Appeal, supra note 47, para. 14.

93 Cf. C. Bassiouni, The Legislative History of the ICC, Vol. 2 (2005), at 440.

94 Prosecutor v. Bemba, Decision Adjourning, supra note 87, para. 26.

95 Cf. Ambos, Allgemeiner Teil, supra note 28, at 72. This relationship has been analysed in great depth in M. Fincke, Das Verhältnis des Allgemeinen zum Besonderen Teil des Strafrechts (1975).

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