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International Criminal Court Investigations other cases

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On this page, GPF monitors discussion of new cases that the International Criminal Court may consider in the future. While there are many potential ICC cases all over the world today, the Rome Statute (on which the Court is established) mandates that the ICC can only act on crimes that have taken place since 2002.

The jurisdiction of the Court is furthermore based on the principle of complementarity. This means that the ICC only has jurisdiction when a member state is unable or unwilling to deal with an international crime. Therefore, international criminal justice experts have had a narrowed scope of potential cases to bring before the court.

Options that have garnered the most support include crimes in Colombia, Zimbabwe, and the United States' invasion of Iraq. The Office of the Prosecutor has started preliminary examinations of the situations in Colombia, Afghanistan, Gaza, Georgia, Guinea and Nigeria.


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LIBYA: Human rights lawyer on Kadafi warrant impact on Arab Spring (May 17, 2011)

The Office of the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has filed arrest warrants for Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi.  The ICC has moved quickly, submitting the arrest warrants just over 2 months after the Security Council referral.  The speed with which the Security Council and the ICC have acted in Libya is at odds with the lack of action in other regions – including, Syria, where human rights violations are perhaps even more widespread, but where the interests of Security Council permanent members are not at stake in the same way. (Los Angeles Times - Babylon & Beyond)

Colombia's Victims of Violence are still Awaiting Justice (May 9, 2011)

The Colombian armed conflict waged since the 1960s between the government, guerrillas and paramilitaries has claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives and displaced millions.  In almost 50 years of conflict, there has been little justice afforded to the victims.  The national congress will pass a “Victims law” to provide financial compensation to those affected by the violence.  Yet those responsible for the violence continue to enjoy impunity.  The ICC is investigating potential war crimes committed in Colombia after 1 November 2009, however, the Court has to date only prosecuted African cases. (Guardian)

Libyan Leaders Face Arrest on War Crimes Charges (May 4, 2011)

In February 2011, the Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC. Investigations have now been completed and the chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has announced that there is widespread evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Arrest warrants are expected to be submitted to the pre-trial chamber in late May. The ICC itself does not carry out arrests, and relies on states to do so.  It is unlikely the Libyan government will cooperate, therefore, it will be essential that foreign states prepare to make arrests. If not, the Security Council’s actions in referring the case to the ICC will be significantly undermined. (Guardian)

Why the Gadhafi Case had to go to The Hague (Febuary 28, 2011) 

The Security Council has referred the escalating crisis in Libya to the International Criminal Court. The Court will investigate whether military attacks on civilians constituted crimes against humanity. This is only the second Security Council referral to the ICC; the first was the case of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2005. This article argues that an ICC trial is important not only to end Gadhafi's impunity, but also as a historical record of his crimes.  It could help to deter potential perpetrators even, perhaps, those in powerful states.  The referral tends to strengthen the impression that the court is only concerned with Africa. (Globe and Mail)


Colombia: Impact of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court (May 2010)

For more than forty years, Colombia has endured successive waves of violent confrontation between the government, paramilitary groups, and guerrillas; causing an enormous loss of life. On November 1, 2002, Colombia became a State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. The judicial proceedings in the country against the alleged perpetrators of the crimes have been under preliminary examination by the ICC prosecutor since 2006. This paper assesses the weaknesses of Colombia's domestic justice processes and discusses the possibility of a formal ICC investigation. (ICTJ)

Jos: International Criminal Court to consider SERAP's petition (February 9, 2010)

On 29 November 2009, massive violence broke out between Muslim and Christian gangs in the city of Jos in the Plateau State of Nigeria after a disputed local government chairmanship election. The state government responded by sending in troops with the order to "shoot-on-sight" anyone violating neighborhood curfews. The Nigerian based NGO, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has requested the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate allegations of unlawful killing of at least 326 people and perpetration of other crimes under international law in the city of Jos. The request has been taken under consideration by the prosecutor. (The Punch)

UN Panel Calls for Court in Guinea Massacre (December 22, 2009)

The UN panel investigating the rape, murder and abuse committed by the Guinean military in September 2009 concludes that three leading figures should stand trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC). Guinea is signatory of the ICC Rome Treaty, and thus, the court does not have to wait for the Security Council to refer the case. (New York Times)


The Para-Uribe Regime, the Extraditions and Justice in Colombia (August 22, 2008)

Since the International Criminal Court has only investigated African countries like Sudan and Uganda, the recent investigation by ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo into crimes of Colombian paramilitaries may mean that the ICC has adopted a new course in its case selection. Contrary to Sudan, which because of its alleged support of terrorists is an official US enemy, Colombia has good relations with the US and several other powerful countries. (ZNet)


International Court Weighs Charges Against Nujoma, Others (July 30, 2007)

Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) demands that the ICC try former Namibian President Sam Nujoma and three former Namibian leaders for their involvement in the disappearance of 4,200 civilians in the 1970s. Nujoma allegedly issued a "shoot at sight" order between 1994 and 1996 resulting in the death of 35 people, and prevented foreign diplomats from intervening in 1999 during an armed attack on civilians in the Caprivi Region. NSHR believes that Nujoma's constant refusal to reveal information warrants an investigation under the "continuous violation doctrine." However, the ICC cannot address this issue because the Rome Statute only applies to crimes committed after July 1, 2002. (Namibian)

Will Mugabe Face the Same Fate as Taylor? (June 8, 2007)

With the opening of the trial of Charles Taylor in The Hague, many wonder how long it will take to bring Robert Mugabe to justice. Mugabe masterminded the massacre of 20,000 Zimbabwe civilians in Matabeleland in the 1980s. Despite the bureaucracy associated with an international tribunal, human rights groups hope that such a trial will bring justice to the victims and prevent future mass killings. (Zimbabwe Independent)


ICC Prosecution of Mugabe Urged (January 19, 2006)

An African Union (AU) commission report has reignited hope that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will indict Zimbabwe's ruler Robert Mugabe. The report, which condemns Mugabe's defiance of human rights, will place pressure on Zimbabwe given the AU's significance and connection to African heads of state. However, given other African leaders extensive human rights violations, they are unlikely to support such an indictment. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)


Mugabe Prosecution Unlikely (July 29, 2005)

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting deems that the prospect of a trial for Zimbabwe's ruler Robert Mugabe is bleak. As Zimbabwe has not ratified the International Criminal Court's statute, ICC investigations would require either a Security Council referral or a new government in Harare that would accept the Court's jurisdiction. However, judging from the Council's slow response in Sudan and the unlikelihood of a new Zimbabwean government handing Mugabe over to the ICC, impunity may very well be the fate of the leader.


US Blocks UN Text on Massacre in Tiff Over Court (November 29, 2004)

The US tried to block a Security Council statement that suggested an International Criminal Court investigation on the August 13, 2004 massacre in Burundi, reports Reuters. The US has also recently campaigned to remove the ICC from next year's General Assembly agenda and make only member states that support the court bear its financial obligations. Though the Security Council did reach a compromise on the statement, members are increasingly irritated with "Washington's disdain" for the ICC.

Extermination of the Pygmies (July 7, 2004)

The human rights organization Minority Rights Group calls on the International Criminal Court to undertake a full investigation into "persecution, extermination and other crimes" against the Bambuti pygmies by rebel groups backed by Rwanda and Uganda. One of the groups accused of the atrocities is the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, supported by Ugandan Vice-President Jean Pierre Bemba. (Independent)

War Crimes Complaint Filed by a Lawyer against Britain (May 14, 2004)

French lawyer Jacques Verges said he has filed a war crimes complaint against Britain at the International Criminal Court for abuse of prisoners in Iraq. Acting on behalf of the relatives of prisoners, Verges allegedly filed the suit because of ample evidence that British nationals had committed war crimes and abetted crimes committed by American troops. (New York Times)

Do the Right Thing (May 7, 2004)

When un-signing from the International Criminal Court treaty, US President George W. Bush pledged the withdrawal would not result in a lack of justice for US misconduct abroad. Faced with allegations of US guards torturing Iraqi prisoners, will the US fulfill this commitment by taking an aggressive stance toward the abuses at Abu Ghraib? (Slate)

ICC to Get Evidence of 'Illegality' of War (January 20, 2004)

A team of international lawyers will present a report arguing the illegality of the invasion of Iraq to Luis Moreno Ocampo, prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Should Ocampo demand an inquiry, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush could face charges. (Inter Press Service)


Blair Waged War Illegally, Says Panel of Lawyers (November 2, 2003)

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair might face a formal complaint at the International Criminal Court for unlawfully waging war in Iraq. The allegations focus on breaches of the Geneva Conventions and the use of toxic depleted uranium shells against Iraqi tanks. (Independent)

War Crimes Case Planned Against US (April 15, 2003)

Lawyers and Human Rights groups unite their efforts to try US and British military commanders for war crimes at the ICC. While US soldiers cannot be prosecuted for crimes committed on Iraqi soil, lawyers argue that US air raids causing civilian deaths that are launched from British airbases may give the ICC jurisdiction. (National Post)

Baghdad Plays War Crimes Card (March 28, 2003)

ICC officials say that a phone call from Baghdad would be enough to give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over British soldiers fighting in Iraq. Any action is unlikely to succeed due to lack of credible evidence though, even if the court gained jurisdiction. (Institute for War and Peace Reporting)

'Illegal War' Could Mean Soldiers Face Prosecution (March 12, 2003)

The ICC has jurisdiction over British troops who commit crimes of war in Iraq, though US and Iraqi forces enjoy immunity. In light of this, British officials are reticent to engage their troops in any military operations that may kill civilians, causing problems for any joint offensive launched by the UK and US. (Independent)

US, Allies Could Be Prosecuted for Iraq War (January 30, 2003)

A US-led attack against Iraq unauthorized by the Security Council would violate international agreements including the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. While US leaders could not be prosecuted by the ICC alongside their British and Australian allies, other courts with universal jurisdiction over war crimes could put them on trial. (Inter Press Service)

US Lawyers Warn Bush on War Crimes (January 28, 2003)

President George W. Bush and senior government officials could be prosecuted for war crimes if "military tactics violated international humanitarian law." In addition, the International Criminal Court in The Hague could prosecute officials from Great Britain and Canada for their actions in a war against Iraq. (Lawyers Against the War)

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