Quirk: Which current or former international leader should be prosecuted by the ICC and why?

By: /
7 May, 2012
By: Paul Quirk
Phil Lind Chair in US Politics and Representation, Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia

President Assad of Syria would be a richly deserving candidate for ICC prosecution. But the undertaking would only provoke more criminality and ensure more suffering and loss of innocent life, because the court lacks the practice that is the operational foundation of the criminal justice system in the United States: the plea bargain.

If full prosecution by the ICC becomes a likely outcome, Assad will never walk away from his desperate effort to maintain power. But if an ICC prosecutor could offer him a deal—step down now, plead guilty to a lesser offense, and accept exile to a nicely appointed, well guarded villa somewhere–it might help.

Others have advocated that the ICC adopt the plea bargain on the same reasoning. Like much about the US criminal justice system, it isn’t pretty. But it would make the ICC more effective for preventing atrocities.

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