The judiciary of the International Criminal Court is composed of three Divisions:
- The Appeals Division
- The Trial Division
- The Pre-Trial Division
The Appeals Division is composed of the President of the Court and four other judges, the Trial Division and the Pre-Trial Division of not less than six judges each. The judicial functions of the Court are carried out in each Division by Chambers.
The Pre-Trial Division is composed of judges with predominantly criminal trial experience. They serve in this Division for a period of three years and thereafter until the completion of any case the hearing of which has already commenced in the Pre-Trial Division. In accordance with the Regulations of the Court, the judges of the Pre-Trial Division elect a President of the Division from amongst their members to oversee the administration of the Division. The judicial functions in the Pre-Trial Division are carried out by Pre-Trial Chambers. The functions of the Pre-Trial Chamber are carried out either by three judges or by a single judge.
The Pre-Trial Chamber plays an important role in the first phase of judicial proceedings. The Chamber authorizes the commencement of the investigation if it considers that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with the investigation and that the case appears to fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. Pre-Trial Chamber may also review a decision of the Prosecutor not to proceed with an investigation either on its own initiative, or at the request of the State.
The Pre-Trial Chamber ensures the overall integrity of the proceedings during the investigation. The first concern in this respect is upholding the rights of the defense during the investigation phase. During the entire pre-trial phase, the Pre-Trial Chamber is also concerned with safeguarding the interests of victims and witnesses and especially protecting their safety, physical and psychological well-being, as well as their dignity and privacy. The Pre-Trial Chamber may also seek the cooperation of States to take protective measures for the purpose of forfeiture, in particular for the ultimate benefit of the victims.
At any time after the initiation of an investigation, the Prosecutor may apply to the Pre-Trial Chamber for the issuance of a warrant of arrest or a summons to appear. Within a reasonable time after the person’s surrender or voluntary appearance before the Court, the Pre-Trial Chamber holds a hearing in the presence of the Prosecutor, the person charged and his/her counsel to decide on the confirmation of charges before trial.
Based on the determination, the Pre-Trial Chamber either confirms the charges or declines to confirm the charges if it determines that there is insufficient evidence, or it may also adjourn the hearing and request the Prosecutor to consider either providing further evidence or conducting further investigations or amending a charge. Once the charges have been confirmed, the Presidency constitutes a Trial Chamber. Finally, the Pre-Trial Chamber is at all times responsible for protecting national security information of concerned States.