The Justice Initiative Welcomes New Vetting Measures for Top ICC Officials
THE HAGUE—As the International Criminal Court (ICC) continues its process for the selection of two deputy prosecutors, the Justice Initiative applauds new due diligence measures to ensure that candidates, whom were announced on October 10, 2021, meet the “high moral character” requirement for this role as required by the Rome Statute.
“Improving the processes for the election of ICC officials is one of the most significant actions that states parties can take to make the court more efficient and effective,” said James Goldston, executive director of the Justice Initiative. “To protect the integrity of an institution that remains so crucial to ensuring that perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide do not escape the arm of the law, we must put in place safeguards to ensure that practices like vote-trading and tolerance for workplace misconduct do not occur.”
In September, the directors of the Justice Initiative and Human Rights Watch sent a letter to ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan and Saklaine Hedaraly, head of the Independent Oversight Mechanism (IOM) of the ICC, calling for additional measures to strengthen the vetting measures in the selection of deputy prosecutor. These requests include:
- Broadening the definition of “misconduct”;
- Including reputational interviews conducted by an independent body;
- Setting a reasonable timeframe for individuals to confidentially report misconduct in future elections;
- Making changes to the process to report misconduct to ensure that it is more victim-centered; and
- Clarifying and enforcing data protections that apply to candidates and individuals who submit allegations of misconduct.
At the same time, the Justice Initiative calls on states parties to use its upcoming December 6-11 meeting to advance principles of fairness, independence, integrity, and merit in all aspects of ICC elections.
Last year, the election of its third prosecutor marked a critical moment for the ICC, significantly affecting the institution’s leadership and direction. The Justice Initiative, which was an active observer for the process of the third prosecutor’s election, will soon has released a new report with insights and recommendations on future ICC elections, informed by 15 years of work monitoring the international tribunal.
“We were pleased to see an ad-hoc vetting process enacted for the current, ongoing deputy prosecutors’ election, despite the fact that it had some flaws, given the urgency of addressing this gap in the existing process. But it is imperative that the Assembly of State Parties delegate a body to develop a permanent vetting mechanism for all candidates that stand for election as ICC officials by the end of 2022, so that there is a robust process in place for all future elections,” said Mariana Pena, a senior legal officer at the Justice Initiative based in The Hague. “As state parties meet in December, they must also take other concrete steps on multiple fronts, including to ensure the independent selection of short-listed candidates, more transparent, fair and merit-based national nomination procedures, and a lessons learned process following last year’s election of the prosecutor.”