For most of the past week, Kenyans from every walk of life have been glued to their TV screens as the trial of Deputy President William Ruto, and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has been streamed live from The Hague.
The man at the centre of the trial, has been the President of the Trial Chamber, Chile Eboe-Osuji, a Nigerian barrister. Not much is known about him here in Kenya.
But much of what most would wish to know is actually to be found in his responses to the questionnaire he had to answer when he applied for a position in the court. Below is an extract from this document, which is available online:
COALITION FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT QUESTIONNAIRE FOR ICC JUDICIAL CANDIDATES DECEMBER 2011 ELECTIONS
Name: Chile Eboe-Osuji, PhD
Nominating State: Nigeria
1. Why do you wish to be elected a judge of the ICC?
(a) Nigeria has never had a judge on the Court. She has made significant contributions in support of the ICC since the creation of the Court.
(b) At my own personal level, I have a body of experience that would assist in a modest contribution to the work of the Court. A summary of the experience is described below.
- I have been a criminal law barrister for over 25 years now, with criminal practice experience gained in criminal trials in both Nigeria
and Canada, both of where I am a barrister.
- Over 15 of those years have been devoted almost exclusively to the practice of international criminal law and human rights law, on the international plane.
- I have many years of experience working as a senior judicial legal officer in the Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. The capacities in which I worked were Head of Chambers, Senior Legal Officer in Chambers, and Head Legal Officer in the Appeals Chamber of the same Tribunal.
- I currently work as the Legal Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. My work entails giving legal advice on a daily basis to the High Commissioner (and other senior officers and colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner) on matters of international law, human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law.
- I have also worked in the past as Senior Appeals Counsel in the Office of the Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
- As well, I have worked as Senior Prosecution Counsel (Trials) at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
(c) The Statute of Rome calls for special regard to be given to candidates with special experience and familiarity with protection of women and children in armed conflicts. These are areas in which I have unique experience. I summarise such experience below:
- As senior judicial legal officer (in the capacities of Head of Chambers and Senior Legal Officer) in Chambers of ICTR, I actively participated in many of the judges' deliberations in their judgments on charges of sexual violence, and supervised the drafting of the judgments in that regard.
- As part of my continued legal education, I returned to school as a mature student to complete a PhD studies. My PhD dissertation concentrated in sexual violence against women.
(d) I expect that all the foregoing will put me in good stead to make a positive contribution to the Court's judicial work, 2. What do you think would be the biggest challenges you would face if you were elected as an ICC judge?
I have always had difficulty leaving the office in time to for the family dinner or joining the family fun times. I worry that the habit will continue if I'm elected as a judge. That will indeed be my greatest challenge.
3. What do you believe are some of the major challenges currently facing the Court? What do you believe will be some of the major challenges in the coming years?
The Court is still a very young institution. Not all stakeholders are sure of what to make of it; and what their relationship is with it. There remains a palpable level of wariness about the Court. A majority of the Permanent Members of the Security Council have not ratified the Court's Statute.
Other large States have still not ratified. The African Union now has a difficult relationship with the Court. All these are sources of challenges for the Court; and they need to be overcome.
4. What are the qualifications required in the State of which you are a national for appointment to the highest judicial offices? Please explain how you meet these qualifications.
In Nigeria, the highest judicial offices are justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The requirement is membership at the Bar for at least 15 years. I was called to the Nigerian Bar in September 1986 - i.e. some 25 years ago. 7. a) Which legal system does your country belong to?
Nigeria belongs to the common law system. So, too, does Canada, where I am also a member of the Bar. I will therefore be one of the representatives of the common law legal system, if elected. b) Do you have knowledge or experience working in other legal systems?
In addition to my native professional common law background, I also have working familiarity with the continental civil law system, by virtue of my experience working closely with lawyers and judges from the civil law system since 1997--at the ICTR, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; as well as through education gained by virtue of my research and writings. c) What difficulties do you envision encountering working with judges from other legal systems? How would you resolve such difficulties?
I do have some experience dealing with differences of legal systems, in virtue of my work in an international legal institution in the past decade and more. Such differences usually involve a dint of professional chauvinism where some lawyers and judges--from both systems--tend to claim the comparative superiority of their own systems, where each system has a different way of solving a particular problem.
My own preferred approach is to identify the comparative degrees of ease/difficulty and convenience/inconvenience of the solutions offered by either system, and then make a decision according to the relative ease and convenience of the particular solution, regardless of which system offers that solution. I will employ the same method on the Bench. 9. a) For List A candidates:
- How would you describe your competence in criminal law and procedure?
- How would you describe your experience as judge, prosecutor, counsel, or in another similar capacity, in criminal proceedings?
Extremely high. I have been a courtroom lawyer for over 25 years. I have had professional experience in criminal cases from the multidimensional perspectives of the prosecutor, the defence counsel and senior judicial officer assisting judges.
In other words, I have alternated my functions in the various capacities that exposed me to such perspectives. I started professional career as a defence counsel in Nigeria and Canada; then I worked for several years as a prosecutor at the ICTR and Special Court for Sierra Leone; and then as senior judicial officer in the Chambers of the ICTR where I worked as the most senior lawyer that assisted the judges in judging the various cases before them. Expertise and Experience:
10. Please describe your qualifications for this position. Please also describe the aspects of your career, experience or expertise outside your professional competence that you consider especially relevant to the work of an ICC judge.
(i) Outside of the strict substantive professional experience and competence, I have a passion for legal research and writing. I conduct my own legal research and write my own papers and books. I believe that these aptitudes will stand me in good stead as a judge at the ICC.
(ii) There is also a certain ethno-cultural life experience that will stand me in good stead on the Bench of the ICC. I do have a bi-cultural experience. I was born and raised in Nigeria; but I have lived a good part of my adult life in both Western and African societies--in equal parts.
My background as an African will enable me understand and process better some of the cultural dimensions of the cases before the Court that come from Africa.
Similarly, my alternative Western cultural affinity will also not only enable me bridge some of the possible cultural fault lines between receiving the raw evidential data and integrating such date into a more just decision- making of the entire Bench in the case. The importance of this perspective to judicial decision-making at the ICC must not be under-estimated.
11. Do you have legal expertise in relevant areas such as the crimes over which the Court has jurisdiction; the management of complex criminal and mass crimes cases; or the disclosure of evidence?
(i) Yes, I have expertise in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. I have extensive experience prosecuting those crimes at the ICTR and the SCSL. As a former senior judicial officer in Chambers, I also have extensive experience assisting Trial and Appellate Judges of the ICTR in judging those cases. I have also taught the subjects as an adjunct lecturer in international criminal law at the University of Ottawa, Canada.
(ii) I am one of the most experienced international lawyers on the subject of the law of aggression. The experience was acquired in my work as Special Legal Advisor to the delegation of Nigeria to the Special Working Group on the Definition of the Crime of Aggression. And I have done some
independent research and writing on the subject.