ICC Sets Date for Confirmation Hearing in Absentia for Joseph Kony Case

Yesterday, March 4, 2024, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a decision on the Prosecutor’s request to hold a confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Joseph Kony in the suspect’s absence, should he not appear, and set the date for this hearing to commence on October 15, 2024.

The Rome Statute allows for confirmation of charges proceedings at the Pre-Trial stage in the absence of the suspect. If the charges are confirmed, the case can proceed to trial only if the accused is present before the Trial Chamber. The existence of confirmation proceedings in absentia would serve to expedite the case against a suspect who cannot be found; however, as previously held by the same Chamber, this proceeding is only applicable in exceptional circumstances.

The Chamber, composed of Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala as Presiding, Judge Tomoko Akane, and Judge Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínez, had previously considered that Mr. Kony qualifies as a “person who cannot be found” within the meaning of Article 61(2)(b) of the Rome Statute. Now, after a targeted Outreach campaign launched by the Registry for this purpose, the Chamber further concluded that “all reasonable steps to inform Mr. Kony of the charges against him as set out in the Document Containing the Charges have been taken.” It noted the ICC Registry’s efforts to that effect, including large-scale media campaigns in Acholi and in English, both in Uganda and neighboring countries, activities aiming at engaging with relevant stakeholders and communities, such as religious and cultural leaders, civil society actors, victims groups, and local government leaders, as well as meetings attended by clan members and other individuals close to the suspect.

In today’s decision, the Chamber instructed the ICC Registry to make its best efforts to inform Mr. Kony that a confirmation of charges hearing in absentia will take place on October 15, 2024, and to commence the process of selecting counsel to represent the rights and interests of Mr. Kony during the confirmation process and the confirmation hearing, should this take place in his absence. In setting this date, the Chamber took into consideration that the Defense counsel will require sufficient time for his or her preparation in the suspect’s absence, due to the scope of the Prosecution’s allegations and the potential voluminous amount of material that the Prosecution is likely to disclose in this case.

Second decision on the Prosecution’s request to hold a confirmation of charges hearing in the Kony case in the suspect’s absence