It is interesting times for regional international criminal tribunals. Kevin Jon Heller of Opinio Juris has a post discussing the failure of the Cambodian Tribunal to reach an agreement on the Rules and Procedure. And, on November 15th, Secretary-General Kofi Annan released a report detailing the establishment of a special tribunal for Lebanon to investigate the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri.
Although building upon the hybrid model used in Sierra Leone, there are several interesting, and perhaps controversial, innovations in the design of the Lebanon tribunal. More so than previous hybrid models, the Lebanon tribunal looks to the domestic legal system and incorporates elements of the civil law system of Lebanon.
Most significantly, the tribunal increases the role of the judiciary in investigating the case and allows for trials in absentia. While the investigative judge is a basic element of civil law systems and was used in the Iraqi High Tribunal, the trial in absentia provision is sure to garner criticism. The report justifies the provision by noting a similar provision in the Lebanese legal system and citing European Court of Human Rights jurisprudence. Moreover, the provision provides that where a suspect is tried in absentia, the Defence Office will provide defence council for the case. However, with the difficulties of the Defence Office in Cambodia and the jury still out on the Defence Office in Sierra Leone, it should be interesting to see whether the Defence Office can adequately function in Lebanon.
The design of the Lebanon tribunal is sure to ignite a debate over international standards of due process. With the varying standards of the Iraqi High Tribunal, the Cambodia Tribunal and the Lebanon tribunal, it would seem that some of the fundamental conflicts between civil and common law systems that expose themselves in international litigation (juries, discovery, judicial control, etc.) remain in the field of international criminal law. It will be interesting to follow whether the ICC will establish a singular concept of due process standards or whether the continued use of hybrid tribunals will signal a rationalization of due process standards for international criminal law.