In a judgment delivered on Friday, the ICC Appeals Chamber confirmed Pre-Trial Chamber II’s July 5 “Decision on the review of detention” continuing Abd-Al-Rahman’s pre-trial detention. Abd-Al-Rahman, a top commander of a militia group, is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The appeal, which was founded on three grounds, is majorly related to the interpretation of Rule 118(3) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (the “Rules”), which was adopted by the pre-trial chamber in maintaining Abd-Al-Rahman’s detention. In the decision, the pre-trial chamber found that the purpose of the hearing under the said rule was majorly to evaluate the detained person’s well-being and the conditions at the detention center, rather than to determine the lawfulness of continued detention. This formed the crux of the appeal.
The defense submitted that the trial chamber had erred in law by finding that the purpose of rule 118(3)-hearing was solely for the evaluation of the conditions of detention, rather than on the issue of continued detention or release. On the other hand, the prosecution submitted that the defense neither demonstrated any errors of law nor how those errors of law materially impacted the impugned decision.
By putting rule 118(3) in context, the Appeals Chamber concluded that the pre-trial chamber erred in law by the restrictive manner in which it interpreted the said rule. It further appreciated that the rule fell within section IV of the rules on “procedures in respect of restrictions and deprivation of liberty”; such a hearing had to relate to the circumstances justifying continued detention in Article 58 of the Rome Statute, rather than merely on the assessment of the circumstances surrounding the detention.
Even after finding that the pre-trial chamber had so erred, the appeal chamber found that this error did not substantially affect the outcome of the decision and confirmed the impugned decision.