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Madrid court annuls central government’s COVID curbs on city | Spain

Regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso opposed the restrictions, saying they would ravage the region’s economy.

A Madrid court has struck down a government order imposing a partial coronavirus lockdown on the Spanish capital, ruling in favour of the Madrid region in a standoff with national authorities just before a long holiday weekend.

Under the health ministry’s order, Madrid regional authorities on Friday barred residents from leaving the area, including nine satellite towns, without a valid reason, and imposed other measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

Regional government chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso had opposed the order, saying it would ravage the region’s economy, also arguing the ministry had no power to impose such curbs on a region.

The Madrid regional court sided with her on Thursday in its ruling, calling the restrictions “interference by public authorities in citizens’ fundamental rights without the legal mandate to support it”.

The restrictions imposed in Madrid, with its usually bustling restaurants and bars, had not yet been fully enforced as no fines could be levied on people violating the restrictions until the court had issued its decision. The government can appeal.

Welcoming the court’s decision, Ayuso nevertheless urged Madrilenos to stay home over the upcoming Hispanic Day weekend that usually sparks mass holiday travel across Spain.

She promised to release a set of “sensible, fair and balanced” rules on Friday, meaning capital residents may still face more restrictions in a country where the government forecasts gross domestic product (GDP) will fall 11.2 percent in 2020.

“Madrid’s businesses can’t carry on like this … Nobody understands the rules, nobody knows what is going on,” she said during a televised address.

Under the law, the Spanish government can limit fundamental rights by imposing a state of emergency, as it did nationwide for three months starting in March, but it is up to the regions, which control health policy, to request such measures on a more local scale outside of an emergency.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who described the situation in Madrid as “concerning”, told reporters in Algeria his government would study the court ruling and decide how to proceed after a meeting with the Madrid authorities.

The region had 741 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the two weeks to October 7, according to the World Health Organization, making it Europe’s second densest COVID-19 cluster after Andorra.

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Trump can’t block tax subpoena: Circuit court

A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said President Trump’s arguments “amount to generic objections” and not the kind of “well-pled facts” necessary to sustain his allegations the subpoena is overbroad and issued in bad faith.

The appellate panel said the subpoena sought “run-of-the-mill” documents that would be typical for any investigation into possible financial or corporate misconduct.

The president’s legal team has already signaled its intention to bring the case back to the Supreme Court, according to a letter filed with the court. The Manhattan DA’s office agreed to delay enforcement of the subpoena until the Supreme Court decides whether to issue a stay.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

President Donald Trump stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

President Donald Trump stands on the balcony outside of the Blue Room as returns to the White House Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

The president’s side argued it was inappropriate for the DA to ask for 8 years’ worth of tax returns because the investigation is limited to Michael Cohen’s hush payments to women who alleged affairs.

The appellate court rejected the president’s interpretation of the investigation’s scope.

“The President, in his briefs, asks us to infer that, because the Cohen payments were a focus of the investigation, they must have been the only focus. We decline to take such a leap,” the judges said.

The court also rejected the president’s claim the subpoena, issued to the president’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, amounted to a “fishing expedition” because it sought the same materials as prior Congressional subpoenas.

“There is no logic to the proposition that the documents sought in the Mazars subpoena are irrelevant to legitimate state law enforcement purposes simply because a Congressional committee considered the same documents relevant to its own investigative purposes,” the judges wrote.

The president’s attempt to argue the subpoena was issued in bad faith met the same fate.

“We hold that none of the President’s allegations, taken together or separately, are sufficient to raise a plausible inference that the subpoena was issued ‘out of malice or an intent to harass,'” the decision said.

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Huawei CFO Meng back in Canadian court fighting U.S. extradition

By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will be back in a Canadian courtroom on Monday as her lawyers resume their fight to block the United States’ efforts to extradite her.

Meng, 48, was arrested in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States charging her with bank fraud for misleading HSBC <HSBA.L> about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran and causing the bank to break U.S. sanction law.

Huawei lawyers will argue that the U.S. extradition request was flawed because it omitted key evidence showing Meng did not lie to HSBC about Huawei’s business in Iran.

Meng, the daughter of billionaire Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, has said she is innocent and is fighting extradition from her house arrest in Vancouver.

The arrest has strained China’s relations with both the United States and Canada. Soon after Meng’s detention, China arrested Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage.

Meng will appear in British Columbia’s Supreme Court on Monday for five days of Vukelich hearings – in which the judge will ultimately decide whether to allow the defence to admit additional pieces of evidence in their favour.

In this case, Huawei lawyers will use a PowerPoint presentation to show HSBC knew the extent of Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, which they say the United States did not accurately portray in its extradition request to Canada.

In previously submitted documents, Meng’s lawyers claim the case that the United States submitted to Canada is “so replete with intentional and reckless error” that it violates her rights.

The argument is part of Meng’s legal strategy to prove that Canadian and American authorities committed abuses of process while arresting her.

Lawyers representing the Canadian attorney general are arguing for her extradition to the United States.

Vukelich hearings are rare in extradition cases, said Gary Botting, an extradition lawyer based in Vancouver, but given the complexity of Meng’s case it is not surprising.

The defence’s success “depends entirely on the nature of the evidence… and whether or not there is any substance to their allegations,” Botting added.

Meng’s extradition trial is currently set to wrap up in April 2021, although if either side appeals the case, it could drag on for years through the Canadian justice system.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Denny Thomas and Diane Craft)

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McConnell locks down key Republican votes for Supreme Court fight

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, said on Sunday that Trump had already narrowed his list and was “prepared to make a nomination very soon.” Trump is expected to announce a nominee later this week, and has said he will choose a woman.

“It’s certainly possible” a nominee could be confirmed before Election Day, Short told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “But I think that the president’s obligation is to make the nomination. We’ll leave the timetable to Leader McConnell.”

Democrats have mounted an intense pressure campaign amid McConnell’s stated intention to fill the vacancy immediately, noting that Senate Republicans blocked Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia in 2016, Merrick Garland, from being considered. At the time, Republicans said it was too close to an election for a Senate and White House controlled by different parties to process a Supreme Court nomination.

On Sunday afternoon, Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, appealed to the handful of Republican senators who control the fate of the next nomination.

“Please follow your conscience,” Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia. “Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created. Don’t go there. Uphold your constitutional duty, your conscience, let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country. We can‘t ignore the cherished system of checks and balances.”

Democratic lawmakers earlier in the day noted that Election Day is only six weeks away and early voting has already begun in several states. Ginsburg’s absence leaves the court with a 5-3 split in favor of conservatives, and the high court is set to take up a case that could determine the fate of Obamacare just one week after the election.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told POLITICO that Republicans essentially created a new rule in 2016 that the Senate should wait to advance a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a presidential term, and that Democrats are united in holding them to that.

“It doesn’t really matter who it is,” he said of the future nominee. “We are unified in the proposition that we want to hold the Republicans to their word, and we will not entertain a nominee until after Inauguration Day.”

Senate Democrats have limited tools at their disposal as the minority party. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate GOP conference, was adamant that the process would move forward this year.

“The president is going to make a nomination,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” “We will hold hearings, and there will be a vote on the floor of the United States Senate this year.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas went even further, insisting that confirming a nominee before the Nov. 3 election was “the right thing to do.” Cruz cited in 2016 “a long tradition” of not considering Supreme Court nominees in an election year.

At least three Republicans recalled on the Sunday shows that there have been 29 vacancies in a presidential election year, and that presidents named a nominee all 29 times. The big difference, Cruz told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” is that the Senate traditionally confirms that nominee when the Senate majority and president are members of the same party.

“It’s not just simply your party, my party,” he said. “The reason is, it’s a question of checks and balances. In order for a Supreme Court nomination to go forward, you have to have the president and the Senate.”

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said it’s “too soon to say right now” whether Republicans would confirm a nominee before the election, but he insisted the Senate would move forward “without delay,” echoing the president’s language.

“In 2014, the American people elected a Republican majority to the Senate to put the brakes on President Obama’s judicial nominations. In 2018, we had a referendum on this question,” Cotton told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” citing the contentious confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“There could not have been a clearer mandate, because the American people didn’t just reelect Republicans. They expanded our majority,” Cotton said. “They defeated four Democratic senators who voted against Justice Kavanaugh. They reelected the one Democratic senator who did vote for Justice Kavanaugh.”

Democrats who appeared on the Sunday shows were uniformly opposed to the Senate’s advancing Trump’s future nominee, especially given that polling shows Biden currently favored to win the election and Democrats could regain control of the Senate.

But the party appeared to try several different tacks rather than one unified strategy. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he would personally appeal to his Republican colleagues, who he suggested should respect the 2016 precedent they set. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former President Bill Clinton both recalled that President Abraham Lincoln allowed the election to occur before making a Supreme Court nomination when a vacancy opened this close to Election Day.

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said the president’s rush to nominate a replacement was evidence that he is more focused on crushing the Affordable Care Act than the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans.

Pelosi shut down the possibility of Democrats leveraging government funding to slow down the Senate’s confirmation process but did maintain that Democrats have “arrows in our quiver” to stop the Senate from advancing a nominee. She declined, however, to discuss their options.

“People have something at stake in this decision and how quickly the president wants to go,” Pelosi said on “This Week.” “I don’t think they care about who said what when and all the rest of that, but they do care about their own health and well-being and the financial health and well-being of their families.”

NPR reported on Friday that Ginsburg had dictated to her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Republicans have largely dismissed that desire.

“She’s certainly a giant upon whose shoulders many will stand, and she blazed a trail for many women in the legal profession,” said Short, the vice president‘s chief of staff. “But the decision to nominate does not lie with her.”

Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the high court and appeared on three programs Sunday, said it would be worth waiting to see whether people care that several senators, including some up for reelection this fall, are going to go against their positions from 2016.

“It would be very interesting to see whether their position could only be justified as: ‘If my party can do it, now I’m for it. If their party can do it, then I’m against it,” Clinton said on “This Week.” “And if that’s the rule of life in America, then who knows what the consequences will be.”

Marianne LeVine and Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, supreme court justice and champion of women’s rights, dies aged 87 – live | US news

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is dead, court announces



Trump’s belated aid to Puerto Rico is a ‘desperate political stunt’




Today so far



Biden speaks in Minnesota as early voting begins





Trump announces $13bn in aid to Puerto Rico


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Court Rules Government Can End Humanitarian Protections For Some 300,000 Immigrants : NPR

A panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, pictured in San Francisco, ruled on Monday that the Trump administration can end humanitarian protections for immigrants from four countries, clearing a path for their eventual deportation.

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A panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, pictured in San Francisco, ruled on Monday that the Trump administration can end humanitarian protections for immigrants from four countries, clearing a path for their eventual deportation.

Jeff Chiu/AP

A federal appeals court panel ruled on Monday that the Trump administration can end humanitarian protections for some 300,000 immigrants living in the United States, clearing the way for their potential deportation starting next year.

The 9th Circuit Appeals Court’s decision affects citizens from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, many of whom have lived in the U.S. for decades, have U.S.-born children and are considered essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

At issue is the termination of Temporary Protected Status, a form of humanitarian relief created by Congress and administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

TPS provides a work permit and stay of deportation to foreign nationals living in the U.S. whose countries of origin are facing natural disaster, armed conflict or other “extraordinary and temporary conditions” that make it unsafe for them to return.

The Trump administration terminated TPS designations of El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan in 2017 and 2018. (It later ended TPS for Honduras and Nepal, and a separate case brought last year by citizens of those countries is ongoing.)

Several TPS beneficiaries from the four countries and their children filed a lawsuit challenging the terminations, both for procedural reasons and on the grounds that the rule was motivated by animus toward “non-white, non-European immigrants” that they said was evidenced by comments made by Trump and other administrative officials.

A district court previously issued a preliminary injunction. Monday’s decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court lifts the injunction, meaning immigrants from the affected countries could be subject to removal starting in January.

Plaintiffs and their lawyers said on Monday that they are preparing to appeal the decision in the entire 9th Circuit.

Defining “temporary”

The National TPS Alliance, a grassroots advocacy group, said the ruling clears the way for the administration to “de-document and tear apart” some 400,000 families.

The group explains that TPS provides protection for short periods of up to 18 months, but the federal government has continuously extended it for the countries mentioned in the lawsuit “based on repeated findings that it remains unsafe to return.”

As a result, it said, most TPS holders have been living in the U.S. for more than a decade, contributing to their communities and raising their families.

Many of the more than 200,000 U.S.-citizen children of TPS holders have never been to the country their parents are from, and would have to choose between their families and their homes.

“This government has failed me and the other 250,000 US citizen children of TPS holders,” said Crista Ramos, lead plaintiff in the case.

The role of race

Two out of the three panel judges ruled that the plaintiffs failed to prove that racial animus was a factor when the administration canceled TPS.

According to a summary of the decision issued by the court:

The [judges] explained that, while the district court’s findings that President Trump expressed racial animus against “nonwhite, non-European” immigrants, and that the White House influenced the TPS termination decisions, were supported by record evidence, the district court cited no evidence linking the President’s animus to the TPS terminations—such as evidence that the President personally sought to influence the TPS terminations, or that any administration officials involved in the TPS decision-making process were themselves motivated by animus. 

Beth Werlin, the executive director of the American Immigration Council, expressed disappointment with the court’s refusal to acknowledge a connection between Trump’s remarks and the administration’s decision to end TPS.

“The racial animus that led to these decisions is real and cannot be ignored,” Werlin said.

Impact on families and communities

Immigration advocacy groups are slamming the court’s ruling, noting it will impact hundreds of thousands of TPS holders as well as their families and communities.

In a statement, Werlin said the decision will “plunge their lives into further turmoil at a time when we all need greater certainty.”

As the global pandemic stretches on, immigrants with protected status make up a large portion of the country’s frontline workers. More than 130,000 TPS recipients are essential workers, according to the Center for American Progress.

“TPS recipients have deep economic and social roots in communities across the nation,” said Ali Noorani, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum. “And, as the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, TPS recipients are standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans and doing essential work.”

Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, the largest property services union in the country, noted that thousands of such immigrants own homes and businesses, and clean and protect major properties as longstanding union members.

“It is deeply disturbing, and frankly enraging, that the Ninth Circuit is allowing the Trump administration to end Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan, opening the prospect of deportation for hundreds of thousands of people who have made the United States their legal home for decades,” said President Kyle Bragg.

Support for ending temporary status

The Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for lower levels of immigration, welcomed the ruling as “a victory for the American people and an unmistakable rebuke to activist judges who seek to make immigration policy from the bench.”

“This ruling represents a win for the idea that the American people should be able to provide needed and appropriate temporary humanitarian relief, with the full expectation that their generosity will not be taken advantage of when the emergency is over,” FAIR president Dan Stein said in a statement.

El Salvador extension

TPS holders from El Salvador, one of the affected countries, already have a slightly longer window to stay in the U.S.

The Trump administration announced last fall it would extend the validity of work permits for El Salvadorans with TPS through Jan. 4 2021. It is also giving El Savadorans with protected status one extra year after the conclusion of TPS-related lawsuits to repatriate.

El Salvador has the highest number of TPS recipients in the U.S., while their home country has the world’s highest murder rate per capita, according to the National Immigration Forum. The group says Monday’s ruling will impact an estimated 300,000 Salvadorans, more than half of whom have lived in the U.S. for at least 20 years.

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Anti-carbon tax sticker law unconstitutional, Ontario court finds

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The stickers show the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022. They do not include information about rebates available to residents.

Morgan said in the decision that the message was “blatantly advantage-seeking by a political party and a misuse of a governing party’s legislative power.”

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He pointed to a statement Energy Minister Greg Rickford made in April 2019 in which he said the province would “stick it to the Liberals and remind the people of Ontario how much this job-killing, regressive carbon tax costs.” That, said Morgan, shows the true purpose of the sticker was partisan.

Rickford said he respects the court decision, “but our government will always stand up for the people of Ontario when it comes to matters that make everyday life more expensive for hardworking families.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which brought the challenge, is thrilled, according to the director of its fundamental freedoms program.

“CCLA is very pleased that the Court recognized these stickers for what they are, an attempt to compel private entities to convey a government’s partisan political message,” Cara Zwibel said in a statement.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

A spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General declined to comment, saying the department is reviewing the decision.

“As this matter is still in the appeal period, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further,” Brian Gray said.

But the Official Opposition urged the government not to appeal.

“He has already wasted enough of people’s money on his anti-carbon price stickers that don’t stick — a partisan and dishonest propaganda campaign,” NDP Energy and Climate Crisis Critic Peter Tabuns said in a written statement.

Ontario has challenged Ottawa’s right to impose a carbon tax, and the Supreme Court is set to hear that case in September.

— With files by Shawn Jeffords.

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How Should the International Criminal Court Be Assessed?

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been subject to a significant amount of scholarly debate since its inception in 2002. As part of the wider expansion of the field of transitional justice, it has become a ‘well established fixture on the global terrain of human rights’ (Nagy, 2008: 275). By intervening in active wars, the Court has ‘emerged as an increasingly relevant actor in ongoing conflicts’ and a central pillar of the ‘peace versus justice’ debate (Kersten, 2016: 4-5). The Court has attracted a growing amount of scholarly attention and ‘the critical note has come to dominate the discourse’ (Robinson, 2015: 324). This may in part be down to unrealistically high expectations (ibid; Chung, 2008: 235; Cassese, 2006: 434) but it also requires us to clarify the criteria by which we are assessing its relative success or failure, to think about ‘the norms, values and expectations against which it is reasonable to evaluate it’ (Clark, 2018: 24).

This essay will begin with a critical assessment of the two main schools of thought used in assessing the impact of the ICC, most commonly referred to as legalism and pragmatism (Vinjamuri and Snyder, 2004; Cacciatori, 2018: 390). Legalism begins from the belief that universal criminal accountability is a positive end in itself. It sees that international legal norms and institutions can work in beneficial tandem with domestic jurisdictions to end a culture of impunity for perpetrators of genocide, war crimes, and other atrocities, providing justice for its victims and creating a powerful deterrence effect. In this framework, the ICC is assessed by its ability to remain outside of political interference and to pursue objective, impartial prosecutions. Pragmatism, on the other hand, sees international criminal justice as inherently political. In this understanding, the ICC is an institution that needs to navigate the complexities of international politics to produce the best outcomes in conflict and post-conflict situations. According to this approach, the ICC should therefore be assessed by its contribution to conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

The essay will then look at different methodological approaches that have been used for assessing the ICC. Epistemologically, there is a divide in the literature between those who evaluate the logical consistency of the court’s mandate, actions and expected outcomes, and those who seek to infer its impact from empirical observations. These contributions can be considered respectively along the lines of deductive and inductive reasoning (Kersten, 2016: 10). Empirical studies of the ICC can also be split into two broad camps: those that rely on in-depth case studies or comparative analysis and those that seek to find statistical significance and understand the impact of specific variables.

Throughout the essay I will argue that the pragmatic school offers the better framework for assessing the ICC. It is more valid to evaluate the Court’s impact on the dynamics of conflict and peace than simply an abstract and imposed notion of justice. I will make the case that, while it is appropriate to analyse the Court’s own conceptual logic, ultimately its impact should be assessed empirically. Given the limited number of ICC interventions, I will argue that case studies and comparative analyses tend to have greater validity than quantitative and statistical methods. I will conclude with some thoughts on the value of this critical exercise and its implications for future research.

Criteria for assessing the ICC

The literature that critically assesses the role of the ICC can broadly be categorised into two groups: legalism and pragmatism. As Vinjamuri and Snyder (2004: 346) have said, these two ‘general orientations’ are premised respectively on a ‘logic of appropriateness’ and a ‘logic of consequences’. Scholars have characterised these camps as the ‘naïve “judicial romantic” who blindly pursues justice and the cynical “political realist” who seeks peace by appeasing the powerful’ (Akhavan, 2009: 625). These have also been called ‘the utopia critique [which] describes a decision as unanchored, unsupported, unwise, unrealistic, or unhelpful’ and ‘the apology critique [which] describes a decision as unprincipled, unambitious, or uninspiring’ (Robinson, 2015: 327). We can see in these two groups a reflection of the wider ‘peace versus justice’ debate in which the value of judicial indictments is set against the need to negotiate pragmatic solutions to wars (Mendeloff, 2018: 410).


The ICC can be seen as the ‘institutional zenith’ of the legalist approach and its establishment as a result of legalism’s ascent during the 1990s (Cacciatori, 2018: 389-390). In line with legalist ideals, ‘ending impunity goes to the heart of the ICC’s mandate’ (Kersten, 2016: 21). Assessing the Court’s impact from this perspective, then, involves measuring it against ‘universal standards of justice’ (Vinjamuri and Snyder, 2004: 346) as a court that ‘seeks impartiality, rising above the political fray to investigate and prosecute suspects without fear or favour’ (Clark, 2018: 22). The Court indeed holds itself to these legalistic standards, arguing that ‘the broader matter of international peace and security is not the responsibility of the Prosecutor’ (ICC, 2007: 9). Along this line of scrutiny, the ICC’s political impartiality and independence is ‘a key test of its credibility and legitimacy’ (Tiemessen, 2014: 458). Criticism of the ICC has most often come from the charge that it is politically compromised; its legitimacy ‘hinges’ on its independence, yet it is ‘utterly dependent’ on powerful states for its international mandate and host states for the practicalities of investigations and arrests (Robinson, 2015: 338). Cases referred to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) by ‘political actors’ (the UN Security Council or member state self-referrals) are seen as less likely to result in impartial prosecutions, creating ‘dangerous impartiality gaps’. However, this is seen as being more viable operationally (Tiemessen, 2014: 445). Nonetheless, the Court loses credibility when relying on state officials (Clark, 2018: 37; Roach, 2011: 550) yet has struggled to ‘not simply allow itself to become a puppet of sovereigns’ designs’ (Megret, 2015: 35). The legalist framework has also exposed failings in terms of the universal applicability of criminal law. Scholars have pointed out the fundamental discrepancies between human rights, humanitarian law and criminal justice (Robinson, 2008) in light of the fact that obligations for enforcement and policing lie with individual states (Chung, 2008). Legalist frameworks can also be applied to the universality of ICC jurisdiction. The Court is seen to be enacting justice on behalf of ‘humanity’ (Megret, 2015: 28) yet is criticised for applying ‘alien and distant’ justice on behalf of liberal democracies and predominantly in African situations (Nagy, 2008: 275). Within the cases it does investigate, the Court’s mandate has been criticized for rendering it ‘unable to respond to violent conflict that spills across borders’ (ibid: 283) or to prosecute perpetrators below a certain rank (Akhavan, 2009: 631).

While the legalism critique mostly focuses on justice outcomes, it does emphasise two ways in which judicial procedures can contribute to wider goals of conflict resolution and prevention: ‘through its pedagogical mechanism of spreading the rule of law and through deterrence’ (Branch, 2011: 181). Firstly, the ICC itself has argued that its impact does not simply rely on the prosecutions that it undertakes, because ‘the absence of trials by the ICC, as a consequence of the effective function of national systems, would be a major success’ (ICC, 2003: 4). Within this strand of legalism, the activities of the Court aim to contribute to a wider improvement in domestic standards (Chung, 2008: 230) and a virtuous cycle of systemic social and legal reforms (Lipscomb, 2006: 194-195). The Court promotes its principle of complementarity, in which it only pursues cases when national courts are ‘unwilling or unable to prosecute’ and works alongside domestic institutions to avoid infringing sovereignty and preserve political independence (ibid: 199). As such, the Court has legitimately been criticised from a legalist perspective when it falls short of this ideal, behaving as if it is ‘superior to the domestic realm and often actively undermining it’ (Clark, 2018: 17). Secondly, Schabas (2007: 57) has said that ‘deterrence is supposed to be one of the purposes of international criminal justice in general, and the International Criminal Court in particular’. This concept rests on the assumptions that individuals cannot escape criminal responsibility for the actions of groups under their command, that trials can break a cycle of violent retribution and that justice will be seen to be done (Vinjamuri and Snyder, 20004: 347). The ICC has consequently been criticised for pursuing such ‘elusive’ objectives (Akhavan, 2009: 628) that ‘suffer from a lack of rigorous empirical analysis’ (Kersten, 2016: 24). The logic of ICC deterrence has also been questioned, on the basis that a failure to secure arrests and prosecutions could lead to an ‘anti-deterrent effect’ (ibid: 25). The legalism critique therefore finds itself straddling two often contradictory lines of thought, in which the Court has a moral duty to end impunity for genocidaires (Akhavan, 2009: 654) but is also evaluated by its impact on ongoing and future conflicts through its reinforcement of deterrence and the rule of law.


The pragmatism approach starts from the position that ‘the consequences of trials for the consolidation of peace and democracy trump the goal of justice per se’ (Vinjamuri and Snyder, 2004: 353). The Court itself recognises that it was ‘created on the premise that justice is an essential component of a stable peace’ (ICC, 2007: 8) and the pragmatism line of critique therefore evaluates its impact on this wider basis. Unlike the ad hoc courts set up in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the ICC is a permanent institution with a mandate to initiate proceedings during conflict situations. It is argued that this ‘demonstrated willingness to intervene in ongoing wars necessitates a critical examination of how it affects the ability of combatants to achieve lasting peace’ (Prorok, 2017: 213). ICC interventions have the potential to create a contradiction with ongoing peace talks by portraying one side as ‘criminals’ (Perrot, 2010: 199) and reinforcing an unhelpful and reductive ‘good versus evil’ conflict narrative (Kersten, 2016: 144). By applying individual criminal responsibility to acts committed in war zones, ‘threats of prosecution can actually impede peacemaking, prolong conflict, and multiply the atrocities associated with them’ (Cobban, 2009). By prioritising indictments and prosecutions, ‘the ICC may directly deter humanitarian intervention and peacekeeping’ (Neumayer, 2009: 662). This critique argues that stability and peace should be prioritised because ‘the key to ending wartime civilian violence is ending wars themselves’ (Mendeloff, 2018: 411). This rationale can also be used to justify ICC involvement in cases where doing so increases the prospects for peace. There is an argument that ‘fear of arrest might cause leaders to negotiate their own peaceful exit from power’ (ibid: 401), while Simmons and Danner (2010) advance a ‘credible commitment theory’ which sees ICC signatories as tying their hands to peaceful processes, thus limiting their ability to resort to arms.

Where legalism expects the ICC to be impartial and to operate outside the realm of politics, pragmatism argues that it should accept its inherently political nature and utilise its opportunities for the best outcomes in terms of peace. Branch (2011: 181-182) has argued that ‘ICC interventions inescapably take place in deeply political contexts within which it tends to be instrumentalized to unaccountable political power’. The fact that the Court relies on host states for operational support opens itself up to manipulation and one-sided interventions, with ‘a number of detrimental consequences for peace’ (ibid: 186). The inference here is that by relying on state cooperation ‘the ICC will serve the interests of the state which is one party to the conflict’ (Robinson, 2015: 327) or else face the possibility that ‘it might be crippled by the absence of such cooperation’ (Cassese, 2006: 435). In wider geopolitical terms, the ICC regularly faces criticism that it is ‘acting as a servant of the permanent five, or [is] a tool of powerful Western countries’ (Robinson, 2015: 328). With its almost exclusive focus to date on African conflicts, the Court is viewed as the ‘the latest in a long line of international actors’ to intervene in the continent (Clark, 2018: 12) and has been criticised for doing so with ‘insufficient deference to national and community-level responses to mass conflict… [producing] a range of negative effects for African societies’ (ibid: 17). It is these real-world implications for civilians in ongoing conflict situations that justifies the expansion of the pragmatism critique over legalism. As Kersten (2016: 39) has said, ‘there is a slow but welcome acknowledgement that international criminal justice should be studied through the lens of peacebuilding’.

Methods for assessing the ICC

Having established the two dominant criteria frameworks, I will now explore the methods that researchers have used for assessing the ICC. In general, the literature can be divided into those methods which question the logic of the ICC and those which empirically measure its impact. Of those who seek to observe the effects of the Court, most adopt a case study or comparative approach, while others have tried to draw out more generalised statistical inferences. I argue that, while it is valid to point out logical contradictions in the Court’s behaviours, on the question of its impact on peace and justice we must rely on empirical evidence. Given the relative paucity of ICC interventions, however, we must be cautious with attempts at universal explanations and rely instead on context and heavily nuanced analyses.

Logic and empiricism

Many of the commentaries on the ICC have relied heavily on a logical analysis of the Court’s impact based on assumed behaviours of various actors. This is based partly on the difficulty of ‘proving’ the effects of its actions. The concept of deterrence, for example, is usually inferred from the logical result that fear of arrest would have on a potential perpetrator. In other words, ‘while we can readily point to those who are not deterred, it is nearly impossible to identify those who are’ (Schabas, 2007: 57). As Cobban (2009) has said, ‘proving deterrence is, admittedly, a tough task’. Mendeloff (2018: 415) has dissected the logical incompatibility of expecting ICC indictments to simultaneously act as ‘weapons of pure punishment’ and as a ‘bargaining chip to change behaviour’. Similarly, the theory of premeditated sequencing – the belief that justice can be pursued once peace has been established – is logically undermined by the necessity of a leader agreeing to a revocable amnesty, but cannot be disproved empirically because it has never happened (Kersten, 2016: 31-32). Robinson (2015: 334/347) has suggested that some charges held against the ICC are logically incompatible and put the Court in a ‘lose-lose’ situation by presenting it with insurmountable paradoxes and non-falsifiable hypotheses.

Most critical assessments of the ICC, however, have relied on empirical observations. This is of course in line with the idea that ‘the main objective of any research is to confront theory with the empirical world’ (Dubois, 2002: 555). The Court’s ability to ‘reduce the commission of mass crimes and support peace…[will] ultimately be the best test’ of its contribution (Simmons and Danner, 2010: 254). Conducting such empirical observations are not without inherent difficulties, however. The ICC can be presented with ‘distant, long-term and sometimes conceptually ‘fuzzy’ goals whose ultimate achievability is unclear’ (Kersten, 2016: 38). Given the different methods and timings of ICC intervention, we should expect complex and variable outcomes (ibid: 63) that defy measurement in ‘a mechanistic “cause and effect” manner’ (Akhavan, 2009: 636). These challenges to empiricism are not unique to this topic among the social sciences, but it remains true that ‘clear and compelling evidence about the effects of ICC intervention remains elusive and contentious’ (Mendeloff, 2018: 397). Notwithstanding these difficulties, however, when it comes to assessing the Court’s effect on peace and justice, it is fair to say that ‘ultimately, this is an empirical question’ (ibid: 397).

Case studies and comparative analysis

Within the body of empirical analyses into the ICC, the bulk of evidence has been gathered by case study research. Case study methods allow researchers to ‘retain the holistic and meaningful characteristics of real-life events’ (Yin, 2009: 4). They allow for a systematic investigation of related events and the description and explanation of the underlying phenomena (Berg, 2009: 317). Specifically, in the field of international criminal justice, case studies can reveal ‘how the credible threat of punishment, or the mere stigmatization of indictment, influences the behavior of such ruthless leaders’ (Akhavan, 2009: 634). By providing context-rich empirical insights, case studies can prove valuable in developing and testing theory (Dubois, 2002: 555), but are limited in their ability to provide generalisations beyond the individual cases that are being studied (Thomas, 2010: 575-576; Yin, 2009: 15). These limitations are not unique to case study approaches but are found in many political science methods, and case studies are able to effectively use comparative techniques, which provide ‘the most obvious route to testing theoretical propositions’ (Hopkin, 2002: 250-251).

There are different approaches to the comparative case study method found across social science and in analyses of the ICC. The ‘method of difference’ aims to compare similar cases differing only in the variable being studied, while the ‘method of agreement’ selects cases that only have the selected variable in common (ibid: 252-3). This approach often suffers from a ‘too many variables, too few countries’ problem in which the limited number of available cases restricts the potential options for comparison (ibid: 255). This problem is particularly evident when comparing ICC cases, with the Court having only opened thirteen full investigations to date (ICC, 2020). Nevertheless, researchers have chosen comparative cases in this area for a variety of reasons. Kersten (2016) chose to compare the cases in Uganda and Libya in order to illuminate their differences. He stated that ‘the divergence in referral type, the targets of ICC indictments, and the existence of official negotiations provide valuable differences and possible comparative insights into the effects of the ICC across these two cases’ (12). Cacciatori (2018: 387) chose to compare the cases of Sudan and Kenya for their similarities, because in both situations ‘the ICC faced the dilemmas arising from prosecuting the most powerful actors in the country’. Clark (2018: 6) analysed the cases of Uganda and DRC in order to highlight the ‘structural features of the ICC’s work as well as important difference that stem from the varied local contexts in which the Court operates’. In depth case studies like these also have the benefit of allowing a longer timeframe of study, facilitating ‘a wide range of methodological approaches and different angles of analysis, extending from field-based research to participant observation in ICC cases’ (ibid: 9). Tiemmesen (2014: 445), however, selected six of the eight conflicts then under ICC jurisdiction, arguing that ‘collectively the case studies present variation in the nature of referrals and degree of cooperation, which makes for an instructive comparison and reveals an identifiable pattern of politicisation’. Comparing multiple case studies allows for extensive analytical inference but should not necessarily be relied on for statistical significance (Dubois, 2002: 557-558).

Large-N studies and statistical analysis

There have been fewer attempts to assess the ICC using large-N data sets and statistical techniques. The aim of these types of study is to test the relationship between variables across a large number of cases. This process allows researchers to make stronger arguments about causal links between variables and to ‘establish robust and parsimonious generalisations’ about political phenomena (Hopkin, 2002: 255). One of the main drawbacks of such an approach is ‘the paucity of available cases and the even greater paucity of available data on cases’ (ibid: 258), which is certainly the case when studying the ICC, and the potential to overlook the accuracy of concepts and measurements while focusing on sophisticated statistical techniques (ibid: 260). One way to measure the impact of the ICC, which the Court itself regularly invokes to justify its own actions, is perception surveys of affected populations. These surveys often show ‘that large segments of affected communities support the idea of prosecutions for high-level atrocity suspects’, although the studies tend to suffer from limited conceptual clarity given different understandings of justice, peace and reconciliation (Clark, 2018: 101). When trying to demonstrate its impact on ongoing conflict, ‘the work of the Court must be associated with a decrease in, or cessation of, direct, physical violence’ (Kersten, 2016: 37) yet there has been a lack of systematic testing of these hypotheses in cases of ICC intervention (Mendeloff, 2018: 415).

A number of scholars have attempted to draw statistical conclusions about ICC interventions. Hillebrecht (2012), for example, used ‘time-series intervention analyses’ to test the relationship between levels of violence in Libya and the ICC intervention. This approach, however, runs the risk of ‘decontextualizing political violence, [and] attributing responsibility for increases and decreases in violence to the ICC without adequately considering other factors which also contribute to alterations in levels of violence’ (Kersten, 2016: 38). Statistical studies have sought to widen the data set by looking at potential implications for ratifications of the ICC’s founding Rome Statute, rather than interventions by the Court itself. Prorok (2017) has tested country ratifications and ICC interventions against data on civil conflicts, controlling for a number of variables such as the risk of domestic punishment and the relative levels of civilian deaths caused by governments and rebels. She concludes by saying that ‘the findings indicate that when risks of domestic punishment are low the ICC’s pursuit of justice undermines peace by threatening leaders’ political survival and personal freedom’ (ibid: 215). Simmons and Danner (2010) test their ‘credible commitment theory’ by modelling ICC ratification against the durability of peace arrangements in civil wars. These studies have a certain amount of validity in demonstrating whether there is a correlation between ICC involvement and conflict outcomes, but they struggle to tell us why that might be the case and to identify ‘extraneous variance’, meaning the impact of factors outside the proposition being tested (Hopkin, 2002: 253). To have an understanding of the full complexities of peace and justice in these contexts, more in-depth case studies are required.


This essay has argued that the most appropriate way to evaluate the success or failure of the International Criminal Court is to apply comparative case study methods to a critique based in pragmatism. Moving on from the dominance of the legalist perspective during the 1990s, this is becoming the leading approach to answering questions in the ‘peace versus justice’ debate. Legalist approaches apply value to ‘justice’ as a goal in itself. Holding perpetrators to a standard of individual criminal accountability is seen as a right to be exercised on behalf of victims and an obligation on behalf of humanity. Yet legalism also argues that ending impunity, creating deterrence, and developing the rule of law provide positive outcomes in terms of conflict resolution and peacebuilding. These criteria present the ICC with a ‘contradictory assignment’ (Robinson, 2015: 330). On this basis, pragmatism is the more appropriate lens for evaluation. If peace is a metric of success then it should be included in its entirety, and the Court should be recognised as an inherently political actor. A pragmatic approach allows us to consider peace and justice holistically in terms of their real-world impact on the lives of civilians. Doing so requires us to consider the logical consistency of the Court’s underpinnings but, more importantly, to empirically assess the impact that interventions have on ending conflicts and building peace. Statistical studies attempting to describe relationships between variables in cases of ICC involvement tend to be unsatisfactory. Tracking violence according to ICC actions removes political context and ascribes unjustified significance to the Court’s actions. We should, for example, ‘expect that little attention is paid by ICC targets to the dropping of arrest warrants compared to the dropping of bombs’ (Kersten: 2016: 47). Case studies and small-N comparative techniques are better placed to understand the full complexities and implications of ICC interventions, which is reflected by their prevalence in the literature.

This exercise has identified some of the key strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to evaluating the ICC. In doing so, it has reinforced the need to carefully consider epistemological assumptions and research design. Identifying existing schools of thought helps researchers choose the most appropriate parameters for studying political and social behaviours. Therefore, looking carefully at methodology should improve the validity of one’s research.


Akhavan, P., 2009. Are International Criminal Tribunals a Disincentive to Peace?: Reconciling Judicial Romanticism with Political Realism. Human Rights Quarterly, 31 (3), pp. 624-54.

Berg, B. L., 2009. Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Seventh edition.Boston: Pearson.

Branch, A., 2011. Displacing Human Rights: War and Intervention in Northern Uganda. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cacciatori, M., 2018. When Kings Are Criminals: Lessons from ICC Prosecutions of African Presidents. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 12(3), pp. 386–406.

Cassese, A., 2006. Is the ICC Still Having Teething Problems? Journal of International Criminal Justice, 4 (3), pp. 434–44.

Chung, C. H., 2008. The Punishment And Prevention Of Genocide: The International Criminal Court As A Benchmark Of Progress And Need. Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, 40 (1), pp. 227-242.

Clark, P., 2018. Distant Justice: The Impact of the International Criminal Court on African Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cobban, H., 2009. Think Again: International Courts. Foreign Policy [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 8 May 2020].

Dubois, A. and Gadde, L., 2002. Systematic combining: an abductive approach to case research. Journal of Business Research, 55, pp. 553-560.

Hillebrecht, C., 2012. Trying the Perpetrators and Fueling the War: The (Perverse) Effects of the International Criminal Court? APSA 2012 Annual Meeting Paper [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 8 May 2020].

Hopkin, J., 2002. Comparative Methods. In: D. Marsh and G. Stoker, eds. Theory and Methods in Political Science. Second edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 249-267.

ICC, 2003. Paper on some policy issues before the Office of the Prosecutor. International Criminal Court [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 8 May 2020].

ICC, 2007. Policy Paper on the Interests of Justice [Online]. International Criminal Court. Available at: [Accessed: 7 May 2020].

ICC, 2020. Situations under investigation [Online]. The International Criminal Court. Available at: [Accessed: 9 May 2020].

Kersten, M., 2016. Justice in Conflict. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lipscomb, R., 2006. Restructuring the ICC Framework to Advance Transitional Justice: A Search for a Permanent Solution in Sudan. Columbia Law Review, 106 (1), pp. 182-212.

Megret, F., 2015. In Whose Name? The ICC and the Search for Constituency. In: C. De Vos, S. Kendall and C. Stahn, eds. Contested Justice: The Politics and Practice of International Criminal Court Interventions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 23–45.

Mendeloff, D., 2018. Punish or Persuade? The Compellence Logic of International Criminal Court Intervention in Cases of Ongoing Civilian Violence. International Studies Review, 20 (3), pp. 395–421.

Nagy, R., 2008. Transitional Justice as Global Project: critical reflections. Third World Quarterly, 29 (2), pp. 275-289.

Neumayer, E., 2009. A New Moral Hazard? Military Intervention, Peacekeeping and Ratification of the International Criminal Court. Journal of Peace Research, 46 (5), pp. 659–70.

Perrot, S., 2010. Northern Uganda: a ‘forgotten conflict’, again? The impact of the internationalization of the resolution process. In: T. Allen and K. Vlassenroot, eds. The Lord’s Resistance Army: Myth and Reality. New York: Zed Books.

Prorok, A. K., 2017. The (In)compatibility of Peace and Justice? The International Criminal Court and Civil Conflict Termination. International Organization, 71, pp. 213–243.

Roach, S. C., 2011. The Turbulent Politics of the International Criminal Court, Peace Review, 23 (4), pp. 546-551.

Robinson, D., 2008. The identity crisis of international criminal law. Leiden Journal of International Law, 21 (4), pp. 925-963.

Robinson, D., 2015. Inescapable Dyads: Why the International Criminal Court Cannot Win. Leiden Journal of International Law, 28, pp. 323–347.

Schabas, W. A., 2007. An introduction to the International Criminal Court. Third edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Simmons, B. A. and Danner, A., 2010. Credible commitments and the International Criminal Court. International Organization, 64 (2), pp. 225-256.

Thomas, G., 2010. Doing Case Study: Abduction Not Induction, Phronesis Not Theory. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(7), 575–582.

Tiemessen, A., 2014. The International Criminal Court and the politics of prosecutions, The International Journal of Human Rights, 18 (4-5), pp. 444-461.

Vinjamuri, L., and Snyder, J., 2004. Advocacy and Scholarship in the Study of International War Crime Tribunals and Transitional Justice. Annual Review of Political Science, 7(1), pp. 345–362.

Yin, R. K., 2009. Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Fourth edition. Los Angeles: Sage.

Written at: University of Bath
Written for: Dr. Oliver Walton
Date written: May 2020

Further Reading on E-International Relations

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Zhang Yuhuan: Chinese court overturns man’s murder conviction after 27 years in prison

Zhang Yuhuan, 53, was freed on Tuesday after the Supreme People’s Court in eastern Jiangxi province found him “not guilty” on the basis of a lack of sufficient evidence, Chinese state media Global Times reported.

The result came after a long-running legal battle to overturn the conviction, and highlights ongoing issues within China’s legal system.

In 1993, two boys were found dead in the city of Nanchang, Jiangxi province, according to the report. Police suspected the boys’ neighbor Zhang of killing them.

In 1995, Zhang was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, meaning his death sentence would be commuted to a life sentence if he didn’t commit any other crimes within a two-year period, state-run China Daily reported.

But Zhang appealed to a higher court, arguing that he was not the killer and claimed that police had tortured him during interrogation, according to the report.

The higher court ordered a retrial, but that was not held until November 2001, China Daily reported. The intermediate court upheld the original judgment, and a later appeal was rejected.

Zhang and his family continued to insist that he was innocent — and finally in March last year, the Jiangxi Supreme People’s Court reopened the case, according to the report. On Tuesday, he was found not guilty.

“After we reviewed the materials, we have found there is no direct evidence that can prove Zhang’s conviction. So we accepted the prosecutors’ suggestion and have declared Zhang innocent,” judge Tian Ganlin was quoted as saying.

Zhang can now apply for state compensation, Global Times reported.

According to the China Daily report, Zhang said the wrongful conviction had cost him the best years of his life. His two sons are now married and have their own children.

“It’s hard for the compensation to make up for the damage of the wrongful conviction to me and my family, but I still hope to get compensated quickly to repair my house and care for my mother,” Zhang said.

Criminal justice

For years, human rights advocates have criticized China’s legal system, alleging that it allows unfair trials, torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

China has made attempts to reform its legal system. According to the Global Times report, China officially adopted the legal principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in 1996.

China&#39;s deadly secret: More executions than all other countries put together
In 2013, an influential Communist Party legal commission issued new guidelines asking for fairer due process in China’s much maligned court system.
However, problems with the country’s legal system remain. China’s judicial system has a conviction rate of around 99%, according to legal observers. It also remains beholden to the ruling Communist Party. Courts are seen first and foremost as a “political organ,” according to the country’s Chief Justice Zhou Qiang.

It remains uncommon for people to have convictions overturned — although Zhang is not the first.

In 2013, a man who served 17 years of a life sentence for murdering his wife was freed after a Higher People’s Court in Anhui province ruled that the “facts about the alleged homicide were unclear and the evidence inadequate.”
In 2016, China’s top court overruled a rape and murder conviction of Nie Shubin — more than two decades after he had been executed.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at the Shanghai Administration Institute, said that the ruling in Zhang’s case showed the advancement of the rule of law, according to China Daily. But he also said judicial authorities could help prevent wrongful convictions by excluding evidence gained through torture.

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Meghan Markle’s five pals who gave explosive interview to People mag could be named TODAY in High Court battle

MEGHAN Markle’s five pals who gave an explosive interview to People magazine could be named TODAY in a High Court battle.

The Duchess of Sussex is suing Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, after a “private” letter she sent to her estranged father Thomas Markle was revealed.

⚠️ Read our Meghan and Harry blog for the latest news on the Royal couple.

Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged father


Meghan Markle is suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday for revealing the contents of a letter she sent to her estranged fatherCredit: AFP or licensors

But the publisher has argued that the existence of the letter had been discussed in an anonymous interview given by five of the former actress’ pals to People Magazine.

Meghan’s lawyers last week applied for the duchess’ friends to remain anonymous as part of the proceedings – something the paper’s legal team has opposed.

The 39-year-old says her friends gave the interview without her knowledge, and denies a claim made by ANL that she “caused or permitted” the People article to be published.

In the article published by People in February of last year, the friends spoke out against the bullying Meghan said she has faced, and have only been identified in confidential court documents.

In a written submission to the court, Justin Rushbrooke QC, representing the duchess, said it would be “cruel irony” for the friends to be identified in the privacy case.

However, Antony White QC, acting for ANL, said the unnamed friends are “important potential witnesses on a key issue”.

“Reporting these matters without referring to names would be a heavy curtailment of the media’s and the defendant’s entitlement to report this case and the public’s right to know about it,” he said.

“No friend’s oral evidence could be fully and properly reported because full reporting might identify her, especially as there has already been media speculation as to their identities.”

Mr Justice Warby is due to deliver his ruling on the duchess’s application at 10.30am today.

Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her wedding


Meghan Markle wrote a letter to her father after he missed her weddingCredit: Splash News
Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the couple


Thomas Markle was not at the 2018 wedding of the coupleCredit: PA:Press Association
The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle


The interview with People magazine is at the centre of the legal battle

ANL, publisher of the Mail on Sunday and MailOnline, won the first skirmish in the legal action on May 1, when Mr Justice Warby struck out parts of Meghan’s claim.

This included allegations that the publisher acted “dishonestly” by leaving out certain passages of the letter.

Court papers have since shown Meghan has agreed to pay ANL’s £67,888 costs for that hearing in full.

Meghan is suing ANL over five articles, two in the MoS and three on MailOnline, which were published in February 2019 and reproduced parts of a handwritten letter she sent to her father in August 2018.

The headline on the article read: “Revealed: The letter showing true tragedy of Meghan’s rift with a father she says has ‘broken her heart into a million pieces’.”

The duchess is seeking damages from ANL for alleged misuse of private information, copyright infringement and breach of the Data Protection Act.

ANL wholly denies the allegations, particularly the duchess’s claim that the letter was edited in any way that changed its meaning, and says it will hotly contest the case.

Meghan and Harry now live in the US


Meghan and Harry now live in the USCredit: Getty Images
Meghan Markle turns 39: Her year in review

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