The International Criminal Court’s quest for scientific evidence

25 March 2015 by Tjitske Lingsma, The Hague (The Netherlands)

This article examines the value the International Criminal Court is increasingly placing on digital data and other technology as a way to reduce reliance on witness testimony. It completes a series by Tjitske Lingsma on the challenges faced by the ICC's Office of the Prosecution. The first article looked at its problems with witnesses [IJT-176] and the second, with intermediaries [IJT-177].

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda during the October 2014 status conferences concerning the status of cooperation between her office and Kenya (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
Image caption: 
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda during the October 2014 status conferences concerning the status of cooperation between her office and Kenya (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)

The prosecution of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been struggling with getting the evidence it needs from witnesses [IJT-176]. But by focusing on collecting scientific evidence, it hopes to build stronger cases. Still, experts warn there is no quick fix. 

In no less than seven of 22 ICC cases in which they ruled on evidence, judges found the evidence insufficient and worthy of dismissal altogether, thereby leaving the cases to collapse. The most dramatic was that against President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, where prosecutors relied on witnesses who withdrew and/or lied and had to deal with massive threats to witnesses [IJT-172].

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