Review of International Tribunal Decisions for the week of September 17, 2012

This week’s review is short and to the point. We have two decisions, one each from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).

International Criminal Law

ECCC

Case No. 002[1]

Decision on Co-Prosecutors’ Request for Stay of Release Order of IENG Thirith

Background

The Trial Chamber ordered the unconditional release of IENG Thirith following a determination that she would never be fit to stand trial.[2] The Prosecution requested that the Supreme Court Chamber impose conditions on her release, but did not appeal the decision on her release.[3]

The President of the Court considered that conditions to ensure IENG Thirith’s disposition to the court must be imposed pending a decision on the Prosecution’s request.[4] He further considered that he had the authority to order release conditions considering his authority to order continued detention.[5] In this case he therefore ordered that the Accused shall inform the Court where she will reside and not move without permission, surrender her passport, not leave the country and respond to any summons of the court.[6]

International Human Rights Law

ECtHR

James, Wells & Lee v. the United Kingdom[7]

Chamber Judgment

Background

The applicants were held under a program that kept convicts imprisoned after then end of their sentences if they were considered to be a threat to society. Following the end of the initial post-sentence detention they were kept in detention without access to review or a means to obtain their release. During the domestic proceedings the British courts found that the public authority had grossly failed in its duty to avoid just such a circumstance. However, the municipal courts found no violation of the European Convention because the applicants’ detention could not be said to be arbitrary as they at one point posed a danger to society. The ECtHR disagreed.

Reasoning

The Court determined that when given an indeterminate sentence to protect the public, a convict must be given a real opportunity for rehabilitation. While such detention could be permissible, it could only be done for as long as there was need. The failure of the public authorities to provide these opportunities was significant in this case. The applicants’ time in detention, after their initial period of incarceration and before they gained access to rehabilitation programs was therefore a violation of the convention.


[1] Case File No. 002/19-09-2007-TC/SC(16), 16 September 2012.

[2] Ibid. at p. 2.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. at p. 3.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Application nos. 25119/09, 25119/09, 57717/09 & 57877/09, 19 September 2012. All information is taken from the press release.

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