ICC Announces Prosecutor Nomination Short List, Justice Initiative Calls for Additional Actions to Ensure Merit
NEW YORK—Yesterday, the search committee charged with narrowing down the candidates for the next International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor announced its short list of four candidates: Morris A. Anyah (Nigeria), Fergal Gaynor (Ireland), Susan Okalany (Uganda) and Richard Roy (Canada). The Open Society Justice Initiative welcomes this step, and congratulates the Committee on the Election of the Prosecutor for the work it has carried out. Going forward, ICC member states must ensure that the next prosecutor embodies outstanding professional merit and “high moral character.” “High moral character” is a key requirement for the position, and should entail a history free from sexual misconduct.
“The election of a new prosecutor occurs at a critical juncture for the ICC,” said James A. Goldston, executive director of the Justice Initiative and former coordinator of prosecutions and senior trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC. “As never before, the Court’s success depends on a visionary, expert leader with unimpeachable integrity. While we welcome the vetting process already conducted, we urge the Bureau of the Assembly of States Parties to institute measures to enable those with sensitive information pertaining to candidates to come forward safely, so member states have the information they need to select the best prosecutor.”
In December 2020, the ICC’s 123 member states will vote on and elect the new prosecutor, elected for a nine-year, non-renewable term. Supporters of the Court have recognized the need for a merit-based election for the next prosecutor, including a focus on the “high moral character” requirement. In recent years, incidents of sexual harassment in the legal field in general, and at the ICC in particular, have raised concern. As fear of retribution for filing complaints looms large in the tight-knit field of international criminal justice, sexual misconduct in the institution is thought to be significantly underreported.
The Justice Initiative also calls on the ICC to institutionalize future vetting processes that are fair, transparent, and secure, ensuring due process guarantees for candidates. Vetting experts note that identifying past sexual misconduct and other malfeasance should occur before a prospective employee enters a new organization, through in-depth background checks, including background research, and interviews conducted with individuals who can speak to past professional behavior.