States should not hinder ICC’s independence and victims’ rights through budget cuts

At the beginning of the 11th Session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, FIDH calls all States to ensure that discussions over the budget do not threaten judicial independence and the ability of the Court to deliver justice. Micromanaging the expenses of the Court in relation to specific cases and situations risks to hinder the ICC’s independence.

Whilst FIDH agrees with seeking efficiency, the Court should be given the funds it requires to fulfil the object and purpose of the Rome Statute. This meeting should remain a forum where States renew their commitment to international justice through strong messages to ensure cooperation with the Court.

Whilst we understand the financial difficulties of major State contributors they should remain vigilant not to open a dangerous door through which the budget may be used to limit judicial and prosecutorial decisions. The level of detail of discussions and proposals should refrain from deciding the amount of funds allocated to specific cases or investigations, stated Patrick Baudouin, Honorary President of FIDH.

The ASP should refrain from opening the discussion of specific programmatic lines of the budget proposed by the ICC. States should take careful consideration to the impact any cuts would have in the capacity of the Court.

Is in this scenario, that States Parties will approve resolutions on serious matters relating to victims rights’, including their right to have a meaningful representation with proper legal assistance through a system of financial aid. FIDH has made an extensive analysis at stake in a report to be presented to the States: Cutting Weakest Link: Budget Discussions and their Impact on Victims’ Right to Participate in the Proceedings.

The Rome Statute system must have victims at the core of its work and worries, and that certainly includes the Assembly of State Parties. It is worrying that States should be reminded that what is at stake is not a financial institution, but the prevention of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by ensuring that nobody responsible for such atrocities would go unpunished and that victims rights enshrined in the Statute are fully implemented said FIDH President, Souhayr Belhassen.

In order to be efficient, the ICC needs a clear and active cooperation from States Parties. This meeting provides an opportunity for States to make pledges on cooperation with the ICC. States Parties must commit to provide full assistance to the Court in any investigation or case, and in particula the enforcement of arrest warrants. FIDH commends previous procedures trying to deal with non-cooperation with the Court and calls the Assembly to make sure that non-compliance with decisions from the Chambers is not tolerated.

In the following days, the ICC will elect a Deputy Prosecutor from a list provided by the current Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. FIDH is concerned about the lack of participation of female candidates in the selection process and calls State Parties to device strategies to promote further participation from women in open application processes for high ranking positions within the Court. Nevertheless, in electing the next Deputy Prosecutor, the overriding consideration should be his or her qualifications to lead the prosecutions at the ICC.

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