International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court, which has its seat in The Hague, Netherlands, was inaugurated in 2002.
The ICC has the competence to try individuals for the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, when those individuals are nationals of one of the 124 States Parties to the Rome Statute or the crime was committed on the territory of a State Party, or the State involved submits a declaration authorizing the ICC’s jurisdiction with respect to the alleged crime. In such cases, the State involved must refer the situation to the ICC or the ICC must authorize the Prosecutor’s investigation proprio motu. The ICC may also investigate and prosecute alleged crimes when the situation has been referred to it by the UN Security Council, even without the relevant State’s ratification of the Rome Statute or ad hoc acceptance of ICC’s jurisdiction.
The ICC’s competence to try individuals for the crime of aggression has been under debate since the inception of the Rome Statute. After the 2010 Review Conference in Kampala, a resolution passed addressing the definition of the crime, amending the statute and outlining how the court will establish its jurisdiction over such crimes. As of September 2016, 32 States have ratified the “Kampala amendments.” They are: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Palestine, Poland, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay. Although the amendments have now been ratified by over 30 States – a requirement for the amendments to enter into force – the ICC may not exercise jurisdiction over crimes of aggression until the amendments have been subject to a decision by the Assembly of States Parties, which may be taken no sooner than January 2, 2017.
To date, the ICC Prosecutor has initiated investigations into ten “situations” which have been referred to the ICC by the States involved or by the UN Security Council, or initiated proprio motu. These are:
- the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- the Central African Republic
- Sudan (Darfur)
- Côte d’Ivoire
- the Central African Republic II
Status of Cases and Investigations
Dominic Ongwen, an alleged commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda is in ICC custody awaiting trial on 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. At least two other suspects remain at large.
Trials have concluded in the situation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, convicted of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 into the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo (FPLC), and, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, both charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and sex slavery. Katanga was convicted, but Ngudjolo was acquitted. An additional DRC defendant, Callixte Mbarushimana, was released from ICC custody after the pre-trial chamber declined to confirm the charges against him. The trial of Bosco Ntaganda is currently underway, while the final DRC defendant, Sylvestre Mudacumura, remains at large.
The five cases in the situation of Darfur, Sudan are in various stages. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda was released after the pre-trial chamber declined to confirm the charges against him. Although Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain appeared voluntarily during the pre-trial stage, he is currently at large. His trial will not begin until he appears in court as the ICC does not try people unless they are present. Four suspects – Muhammad Harun (“Ahmad Harun”), Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (“Ali Kushayb”), current Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, and Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein – remain at large.
In the situation in the Central African Republic, as of March 2016, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was found guilty of two counts of crimes against humanity and three counts of war crimes. He was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment. He was also convicted in additional proceedings of offenses against the administration of justice.
With regard to Kenya, the Trial Chamber decided to terminate the case against William Samoei Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang in April 2016. The charges against President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta have been dropped due to insufficient evidence. The charges against Francis Kirimi Muthaura, initially confirmed, were later withdrawn and the charges against Henry Kipromo Kosgey and Mohammed Hussein Ali were not confirmed. Additionally, Walter Osapiri Barasa, Paul Gicheru, and Philip Kipkoech Bett are wanted by the ICC in connection with witness tampering.
In the situation of Libya, the ICC pre-trial chamber has determined the case against Abdullah Al-Senussi to be inadmissible because his liability is currently being determined by appropriate domestic proceedings, although the pre-trial chamber seeks to retain jurisdiction over the case against Saif Al Islam Gaddafi. The proceedings against former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi were terminated upon his death.
With regard to the Côte d’Ivoire cases, the joint trial against former President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé began in January 2016. Both are charged as indirect co-perpetrators of crimes against humanity. Simone Gbagbo, wanted on similar charges, is not yet in ICC custody.
In the situation of Mali, the trial against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi concluded in September 2016, and he is awaiting sentencing. Mahdi was convicted of the war crime of intentionally attacking historic and religious sites.
The Central African Republic II situation is currently under investigation. Investigations are focused on the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed – including rape, pillaging, and the use of children in combat – in the midst of renewed violence beginning in 2012.
Investigations in Georgia are currently focused on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during an international armed conflict that took place between July and October 2008.
Further, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor is conducting preliminary investigations into a number of other situations, including: Afghanistan; Guinea; Colombia; Nigeria; Burundi; Iraq/United Kingdom; Palestine; Registered Vessels of Comoros, Greece, and Cambodia; Ukraine.
The ICC maintains an online calendar for the current week and weeks ahead.