30 Jun ICC Labor Woes Part II: What’s Two Million Euros Between Friends?
A few readers have contacted me privately to note that my previous post significantly underestimated the number of ILO judgments against the ICC. I said at least three. In fact, the number is much, much higher — the result of a series of recent judgments issued by the Administrative Tribunal since the beginning of 2017. Each of the judgments involves the now-former Registrar’s misbegotten attempt to restructure the Registry, the ReVision Project, which led to numerous Court employees being terminated.
Here is how the Tribunal describes what occurred in Case No. 3907, F v. ICC, which led to the most significant damage award — €268,000:
In 2013 the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court authorized the Registrar of the Court to reorganise the Registry. This reorganisation became known as the ReVision Project. In August 2014 the Registrar issued Information Circular ICC/INF/2014/011 entitled “Principles and Procedures Applicable to Decisions Arising from the ReVision Project” (Principles and Procedures). On 13 June 2015 Information Circular ICC/INF/2014/011 Rev.1 was issued, which revised the Principles and Procedures; the revised version was in force at the material time.
By a letter dated 17 June 2015 the complainant was notified by the Registrar that her post was being abolished and that her appointment would terminate as of 15 October 2015. It was explained that it had been decided to change the structure of the Human Resources Section (HRS) and as a result her position was no longer required; what was needed instead was the position of HR Officer – Entitlements and Payroll. She was informed inter alia of the options that were open to her, including the acceptance of an enhanced agreed separation package or the opportunity to apply as an internal candidate (for newly created positions arising as a direct result of the ReVision Project) with the priority consideration provided for in the Principles and Procedures. In the event that she sat for an interview for any position as a priority candidate, she would lose the option to accept the enhanced agreed separation package…
On 5 October the complainant submitted a statement of appeal in which she challenged the decisions to abolish her position and terminate her appointment. By a letter of 13 October 2015 the Registrar informed the complainant that she had not been successful in securing a position as a result of the recruitment exercises she had participated in. She was further notified that her appointment would terminate on 22 October
Ms. F went to the ICC’s internal Appeal Board, which upheld her appeal. The Registrar, however, disagreed with the Board and terminated Ms. F anyway. Ms. F then filed a complaint with the ILO.
I don’t want to get into all the details of the ICC’s employment practices. Suffice it to say that, given the amount of material and moral damages she was awarded, the Tribunal was not impressed by how the Registrar treated Ms. F. The same is true in all the other cases, which involve quite similar facts. Indeed, some of the language the Tribunal used to describe the Registrar’s actions is striking. In Case No. 3903, for example, the Tribunal said the following:
The way in which the decision to terminate the complainant’s appointment was, in the letter, merged with the decision to abolish his position, the misleading content of the letter coupled with the vague and confusing language of the notification of the termination of the appointment was a breach of the ICC’s duty to act in good faith.
Since the beginning of 2017, the Tribunal has upheld eight complaints against the ICC regarding the ReVision Project. Here are the damages it has awarded:
- 3903: €61,000
- 3904: €61,000
- 3905: €24,000
- 3906: €24,000
- 3907: €268,000
- 3908: €222,000
- 4004: €184,000
- 4007: €11,000
To date, the former Registrar’s actions have cost the ICC at least €855,000. And an informed source says there are approximately 15 more ReVision complaints pending, which the Court can obviously expect to lose. So the Registrar’s actions — almost always in defiance of the ICC’s own Appeals Board — could end up costing the Court more than €2,000,000. At a time when the ICC is already facing a significant budget crunch, that’s horrific.
The ICC elected a new Registrar on 28 March 2018. We can only hope his personnel policies are an improvement on his predecessor’s.