International Criminal Court: Status of Its Situations and Cases

International Criminal Court
International Criminal Court

 This post will review the current status of the eight situations (all from Africa) currently under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor (TOP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the 30 individuals that have been charged by the ICC with crimes in those situations.[1]

1. Uganda

In July 2004, pursuant to a referral by the government of Uganda, TOP opened an investigation into the situation of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)in Northern Uganda. That has resulted in charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes against five individuals, four of whom remain at large: Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen. The other (Raska Lukwiya) is deceased.

The hunt for Kony and other LRA leaders continues. Uganda has some 2,500 soldiers deployed around the border areas of Central African Republic (CAR) the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, where Kony and his fighters are thought to spend most of their time. The Ugandan troops are joined by 500 Congolese fighters, 500 South Sudanese and 350 CAR troops, all operating under the auspices of the African Union (AU). They have been assisted by 100 U.S. special forces. These efforts will continue despite the recent coup in the CAR.

On March 18, 2013, TOP issued a statement that LRA members  will not be killed or tortured if they surrender to the  ICC. All their human rights will be protected and the cases against them will be in accordance with accepted international human rights standards. They will face a fair, impartial and public justice that respects all their rights, including the right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice, and to present evidence in their defense. If convicted they will not be sentenced to death. Therefore, they should hand themselves over and face a fair justice process at the ICC or remain fugitives in full knowledge that military forces from many countries are looking for them, and they may be cornered, captured, and possibly killed or wounded in the process.

2. Democratic Republic of the Congo

In June 2004, pursuant to a referral by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), TOP opened an investigation into the situation in the country since June 1, 2002. That has resulted in six cases against six individuals.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo on March 1, 2012, was convicted of war crimes and on July 10, 2012, sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.

On July 8, 2012, the ICC issued its first decision on reparations. It decided that the potential beneficiaries are the direct and indirect victims who suffered harm following the crimes of enlisting, conscripting and using children under the age of 15 in Ituri in the DRC (9/1/02–8/13/03), including family members of direct victims and individuals who intervened to help the victims or to prevent the commission of these crimes. The decision also established the following principles for reparations:

  • no discrimination as regards age, ethnicity or gender;
  • reconciling the victims of child recruitment and their families and communities in Ituri;
  • preserving their dignity and privacy;
  • taking into account the age of the victims and the sexual violence that they may have suffered; and
  • the need to rehabilitate the former child soldiers within their communities.

Germain Katanga went on trial (with Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui) on November 24, 2009, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes within the meaning of Article 25(3)(a) of the Statute (committing the crimes jointly through another person). On February 7, 2012, evidence in the case was closed and closing arguments were heard in May 2012 by the Trial Chamber.

On November 21, 2012, the Chamber, 2 to 1, issued an order severing Mr. Chui from this case and deciding that the mode of liability of Mr. Katanga might be changed under Regulation 55(2)[2] to Article 25(3)(d) of the Statute (contributing in any other way to the commission of the crimes by a group of persons acting with a common purpose).

This proposed change (after the trial) was appealed by Mr. Katanga, and on March 27, 2013, the Appeals Chamber, 2-1, affirmed the Trial Chamber. It held that the decision was in accordance with Regulation 55(2) and did not violate the defendant’s right to a fair trial. However, it said, the Trial Chamber will have to be vigilant in its further deliberations to ensure that this right will not be infringed by further trial proceedings.

Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui , as just indicated, was tried with Mr. Katanga from November 24, 2009 through May 23, 2012 on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes within the meaning of Article 25(3)(a) of the Statute (committing the crimes jointly through another person), but on November 21, 2012, Mr. Chui’s charges were severed.

On December 18, 2012, the Trial Chamber issued its unanimous verdict acquitting Mr. Chui of all charges because it had not been proven beyond reasonable doubt that he was the commander of the Lendu combatants from Bedu-Ezekere during the attack against the Bogoro village on 24 February 2003. On December 21, 2012, Mr. Chui was released from detention pursuant to an order by the Appeals Chamber.

The Office of the Prosecutor has appealed that verdict.

Bosco Ntaganda  has been charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes.

On March 22, 2013, he voluntarily surrendered himself to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda and asked to be turned over to the ICC. His decision prompted speculation as to why he did so. One theory says he was threatened by member of his own rebel group and wanted to save his own life. In any event, soon thereafter he made his initial appearance before the Court and said he was not guilty. The date for his confirmation of charges hearing was set for September 23, 2013.

Callixte Mbarushimana was charged with five counts of crimes against humanity and eight counts of war crimes, but on December 16, 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber refused to confirm the charges, and on December 23, 2011, he was released from the Court’s custody.

Sylvestre Mudacumura  on July 13, 2012, was the subject of the Pre-Trial Chamber’s arrest warrant for allegedly committing nine counts of war crimes in the DRC, including  attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrages against personal dignity. He is at large.

3. Central African Republic

On May 22, 2007, pursuant to a referral by the government of the Central African Republic (CAR), TOP opened an investigation into alleged crimes, in 2002 and 2003, in that country. In which civilians were killed and raped; and homes and stores were looted in the context of an armed conflict between the government and rebel forces.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is the only case. He is charged as a military commander, with two counts of crimes against humanity: (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging). His trial started on November 25, 2010, and is not finished.

4. Darfur/Sudan

On June 6, 2005, pursuant to a referral by the U.N. Security Council, TOP opened an investigation into the situation in Darfur, Sudan since July 1, 2002.

That has resulted in six cases involving  seven  individuals, the following  four of whom are still at large: (i) Ahmad Muhammad Harun (20 counts of crimes against humanity and 22 counts of war crimes); (ii) Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman (22 counts of crimes against humanity and 28 counts of war crimes); (iii) Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir, the President of Sudan (5 counts of crimes against humanity, 2 counts of war crimes and 3 counts of genocide); and (iv) Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein (7 counts of crimes against humanity and 6 counts of war crimes).

Bahar Idriss Abu Garda was charged with war crimes, but in 2010, the Pre-Trial Chamber refused to confirm the charges, and rejected the Prosecutor’s application to appeal.

Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus are charged with co-commission of three war crimes. Their trial is scheduled to start on May 5, 2014.

In the latest (December 2012) semi-annual report to the U.N. Security Council on this situation and cases,[3] the Chief Prosecutor said that her office would consider whether further investigations and additional arrest warrants were needed to address recent violations, including reports of thwarting humanitarian aid deliveries, attacks on African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeepers and bombardments and attacks on civilian populations.

The Chief Prosecutor also told the Council, “The question that remains to be answered is how many more civilians must be killed, injured and displaced for this Council to be spurred into doing its part. There are no words to properly express the frustration of Darfur’s victims, which we share, about the lack of any meaningful progress towards arresting those indicted by the Courts.”

In response, Sudan’s representative told the Security Council that the Prosecutor’s report was flawed, saying it contained unsubstantiated allegations, and contradicted UNAMID reports.  The report’s allegations of gender violence, for instance, did not provide sources, and it mistook tribal clashes for fighting between militias.  Also, reported attacks on peacekeepers had in fact been committed by bandits now being pursued by Sudanese authorities. He said the Court had become a tool for “blackmail” and for violating the sovereignty of small States and was being exploited by certain political interests.

Among the other statements at the Council meeting, a U.S. diplomat said mounting violence was a grave concern, including targeted civilian attacks and denying UNAMID access to affected areas.  Since UNAMID’s initial deployment in 2007, 43 peacekeepers had been killed, in attacks that could be prosecuted as war crimes.  The Council should condemn any and all attacks on mission personnel.  Reversing the cycle of violence required accountability for the perpetrators, he said, expressing dismay that the Sudanese Government was not cooperating with the Court, despite its obligation to do so fully.  Continued impunity for crimes committed in Darfur fomented instability and sent a dangerous message that there were no consequences to attacking civilians.  Welcoming the willingness of States to consider creative approaches and new tools to assist the Court, he also embraced further discussions on resolutions concerning Council referrals to the Court. [4]

5. Kenya

On March 31, 2010, the Pre-Trial Chamber, 2-1, authorized TOP to proceed with an investigation that it had proposed into the situation in Kenya between June 1, 2005 and November 26, 2009.

Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta is charged as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity (murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts. The charges stem from his alleged role in funding and organizing ethnic violence leading to the death of an estimated 1,200 people after the 2007 presidential election. His trial is scheduled to start on July 9, 2013.

In the meantime, on March 3, 2013, Kenyatta, who employed anti-ICC propaganda in his presidential election campaign, was narrowly elected President of Kenya, and on March 30th the country’s Supreme Court unanimously rejected a challenge to the election from his main electoral opponent. Kenyatta’s election creates an “awkward” situation, as the New York Times said, for the U.S. and other countries who need good diplomatic relations with Kenya.

William Samoei Ruto was charged with being an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 28, 2013.

Joshua Arap Sang was charged with having contributed to crimes against humanity. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 28, 2013.

Henry Kiprono Kosgey was charged as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity, but the Pre-Trial Chamber declined to confirm the charges.

Mohammed Hussein Ali was charged with crimes against humanity, but in 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber refused to confirm the charges.

Francis Kirimi Muthaura was charged as an indirect co-perpetrator of crimes against humanity, and the re-Trial Chamber in January 2012 confirmed some of the charges. In March 2013, however, TOP filed notice to withdraw the charges because several people who may have provided important evidence regarding his actions, have died, while others are too afraid to testify for the Prosecution; the Government of Kenya failed to provide TOP with important evidence; and the key witness against him had recanted a crucial part of his evidence and had admitted he had accepted bribes.

6. Libya

On February 26, 2011, the U.N. Security Council referred the situation in Libya since February 15, 2011 to the Court. That has resulted in TOP’s charges against three individuals, one of whom died (Muammar Gaddafi) resulting in the dismissal of his case.

The other two (Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi) are in the custody of the Libyan Provisional Authority and have not been turned over to the Court despite negotiations to that effect.

In October 2012, Libya asked the ICC to abandon its claims against the two men because it said Libya can give them fair trials in Tripoli.  In early 2013, Libyan officials told the ICC that the two men would be put on trial in Libya in May this year and would not face summary trial and execution.

In the latest (November 2012) semi-annual report to the U.N. Security Council on this situation and cases,[5] the Chief Prosecutor said both Saif Al-Islam Qadhafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi had been arrested and detained in Libya, and that the Libyan authorities had challenged the admissibility of the ICC’s case against Mr. Qadhafi and possibly of the case against Mr. Al-Senussi.  She said the ICC’s Pre-Trail Chamber would decide the merits of the challenge as to whether the case should be heard at the Court or in Libya, and should the challenge ultimately succeed, TOP would monitor those proceedings and cooperate with Libya, to the extent of the mandate.Emphasizing the pressing need for complementary and mutually supportive approaches to address accountability, she encouraged international support and assistance to enhance Libya’s capacity to deal with past crimes and to promote the rule of law.

A Libyan representative at the Council meeting said  his Government had set out its plans for stability, reconciliation and comprehensive justice for crimes that had been committed in his country and that its investigation was already at an advanced stage in some of those cases although the Qadhafi trial had been postponed in order to allow for the most thorough possible investigation.  Libya, he continued, has been cooperating with the ICC and was now awaiting the decision on the admissibility challenge in the Qadhafi case and a forthcoming similar challenge in the Al-Senussi case.  He reiterated his country’s pledge to carry out all procedures in compliance with international law.

A U.S. diplomat at the Security Council urged the Libyan Government to continue its cooperation with the Court.  It was an important moment for both Libya and the Court as they worked together, under their respective roles, in ensuring peace and accountability. It was critical for Libya to ensure the safety of ICC personnel on visits to the country. She added that the U.S. had endeavored to cooperate with the ICC in its efforts regarding Libya, consistent with U.S. law and policy.  Impunity for all serious crimes in Libya, including gender crimes, must be avoided, and victims should be assisted.  The U.S. would continue to work with the international community to assist Libyan efforts to reform its justice sector and advance human rights in the country.

7. Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire)

On October 3, 2001, the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber granted TOP request to commence an investigation into the situation in the Ivory Coast since November 28, 2010, and in February 2012 the Chamber expanded the investigation to cover the period September 19. 2002 through November 28, 2010.

Laurent Gbagbo, the former president of the country, has been charged with four counts of crimes against humanity. He was surrendered to the Court in November 2011, and his confirmation of charges hearing was held in February 2013.

Simone Gbagbo, the wife of Laurent Gbagbo, has been charged as an indirect co-perpetrator with four counts of crimes against humanity. She has not been turned over to the Court.

8, Mali

On July 13, 2012, the government of Mali referred the situation in that country since January 2012 to the ICC, which has assigned it to the Pre-Trial Chamber.

In January 2012 a rebellion began in Northern Mali, led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). In March 2012, military officer Amadou Sanogo seized power in the country in a coup d’etat, citing the president’s failure to eliminate the rebellion. The MNLA quickly took control of the north, declaring independence as Azawad. However, Islamist groups that had helped the MNLA defeat the government, turned on the rebel group and took control of the North with the goal of implementing Sharia Law in Mali.

On January 11, 2013, the French Armed Forces intervened at the request of Sanogo’s government. On January 30th, the coordinated advance of the French and Malian troops claimed to have retaken the last remaining Islamist stronghold.

In the midst of these military engagements, on January 16, 2013, TOP announced that it formally had opened an investigation into the Situation in Mali since January of 2012. After thorough analysis it said it had found that evidence, admissibility, gravity of potential cases, and interest of justice all support the requirements to open a formal investigation into war crimes allegedly committed in Mali. Crimes alleged to have happened include murder; mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; intentionally directing attacks against protected objects; the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court; pillaging; and rape. The ICC will move to investigate these alleged crimes and bring charges against individuals “who bear the greatest criminal responsibility for the most serious crimes committed.

In late January 2013, TOP warned Malian authorities to put an immediate stop to the alleged abuses and, on the basis of the principle of complementarity, to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the alleged crimes. TOP reminded all parties to the on-going conflict in Mali that it has jurisdiction over all serious crimes committed within the territory of Mali, from January 2012 onwards. All those alleged to be responsible for serious crimes in Mali must be held accountable.

Conclusion

The following summarizes the status of those charged with crimes by the Court as it nears its 11th anniversary on July 1, 2013:

Status Number
Deceased   2
At large or not in Court custody 12
Pre-Trial: charges not confirmed   6
Pre-Trial: pending   1
Trials scheduled to start by 12/31/14   5
At trial   1
Tried and convicted   1
Tried and status in question   1
Tried and acquitted   1
TOTAL 30

[1] There have been many prior posts about the ICC.

[2]  Regulation 55, which is titled “Authority of the Chamber to modify the legal characterization of facts,” says in part (2),”If, at any time during the trial, it appears to the Chamber that the legal characterisation of facts may be subject to change, the Chamber shall give notice to the participants of such a possibility and having heard the evidence, shall, at an appropriate stage of the proceedings, give the participants the opportunity to make oral or written submissions. The Chamber may suspend the hearing to ensure that the participants have adequate time and facilities for effective preparation or, if necessary, it may order a hearing to consider all matters relevant to the proposed change.” Part (3) goes on to say, “For the purposes of sub-regulation 2, the Chamber shall, in particular,ensure that the accused shall:(a) Have adequate time and facilities for the effective preparation of his or her defence [sic] in accordance with article 67, paragraph 1 (b); and (b) If necessary, be given the opportunity to examine again, or have examined again, a previous witness, to call a new witness or to present other evidence admissible under the Statute in accordance with article 67, paragraph 1 (e).”

[3] A prior post discussed the June 2012 ICC report to the Security Council on the Darfur/Sudan referral.

[4] The U.S. statement regarding Sudan/Darfur is available online.

[5]  A prior post discussed the May 2012 ICC report to the Security Council on the Libyan referral.

International Criminal Court: Other Recent Developments

We recently have reviewed the taking of office of five new judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Court’s first conviction in the case of Thomas Lubanga Diyalo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Now we look at some other recent ICC developments.

Central African Republic. The only case from the Central African Republic involves one defendant, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who is now on trial.

Darfur/Sudan. There are five cases involving seven defendants. Two are in ICC custody at The Hague and await trial. One had the charges dismissed. The other four, including Sudanese President Bashir, are at large.

Another of the at-large defendants is Abdel Raheem Muhammad, whose arrest warrant was just issued on March 1, 2012, for 41 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in the context of the situation in Darfur (Sudan). Mr. Hussein is currently Minister of National Defense of the Sudanese Government and former Minister of the Interior and former Sudanese President’s Special Representative in Darfur.

Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are four cases involving five defendants. One, Mr. Lubanga, was recently convicted. A case involving two other defendants is now on trial. The charges against another defendant were not confirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber while the fifth defendant is at large.

After the conviction of Mr. Lubanga, the ICC Prosecutor said he plans to demand that DRC President Joseph Kabila hand over the defendant still at large. He is Bosco Ntaganda, who was promoted to DRC army general after being indicted with Lubanga by the ICC and who now faces new charges of mass rape and murder.

Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire). There is only one case involving one defendant, Laurent Gbagbo (the former President of the country) for whom the hearing on the confirmation of charges is scheduled to start on 18 June 2012. He is in ICC custody at The Hague.

On February 22, 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber decided to expand its authorization for the investigation in Côte d’Ivoire to include crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed between  September 19, 2002 and November 28, 2010. (The prior authorization only covered alleged crimes committed since November 28, 2010.)

The Chamber considered that the violent events in Côte d’Ivoire in this period (including the events since 28 November 2010) are to be treated as a single situation, in which an ongoing crisis involving a prolonged political dispute and power-struggle culminated in the events in relation to which the Chamber earlier authorized an investigation. Concentrating on the most significant of the samples of incidents, the Chamber concluded that there is reasonable basis to believe that, in the course of these events, acts of murder and rape that could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity were committed.

In the country lawlessness and violence continues, and an U.N. agency recently determined that its security forces that have been accused of killings, arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations are acting alone and not under government orders.

Kenya. There are two Kenyan cases involving six defendants. On January 23, 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber confirmed the charges against four of the defendants and committed them to trial while declining to confirm the charges against the other two.

The reaction to this decision in Kenya is reviewed elsewhere.

Libya. There is one case involving three defendants. One defendant, Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, is deceased, and his case has been terminated. The other two- Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi–are charged with crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from February 15, 2011 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces.

Al-Islam Gaddafi is in detention in Libya, which has been resisting ICC demands for his being surrendered to the Court. Al-Senussi recently was captured in Mauritania, and Libya is pressing that country to turn him over to Libyan authorities, rather than the ICC.  The legal issue at the heart of this dispute over where these two men will be tried is whether Libya has a functioning judicial system that can provide a due-process criminal proceeding.

Uganda. There is one case involving four defendant leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), including Joseph Kony. All four are at large.

The major recent development regarding the ICC’s case has happened outside the legal process. Earlier this month a 30-minute YouTube video “Kony 2012” portrayed  Mr. Kony’s involvement with child soldiers and called for his arrest and surrender to the ICC for trial. This video became a world-wide phenomenon (“it went viral”) and the subject of much controversy.

This increased attention to Kony has caused the Ugandan military to intensify its efforts to find Kony and other LRA leaders.

In the meantime, the U.S., although not a member of the ICC, has reiterated its commitment of military resources to locate the LRA leaders. The Department of State recently declared that the U.S. has a “comprehensive, multi-year strategy [that] seeks to help the Governments of Uganda, CAR, the DRC, and South Sudan as well as the African Union and United Nations to mitigate and end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA. The strategy outlines four key objectives for U.S. support: (1) the increased protection of civilians, (2) the apprehension or removal of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield, (3) the promotion of defections and support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters, and (4) the provision of continued humanitarian relief to affected communities.”

Conclusion

As evident from the above, all of the ICC’s current investigations and cases come from Africa, which has produced tension between the Court and the continent’s leaders. Following the recent elections of an African (Fatou Bensouda) as the Court’s new Prosecutor and another African (Chile Eboe Osuji) as one of its new judges, nearly 36 NGOs from 19 African countries recently sent a joint letter to the foreign ministers of the African countries that are parties to the ICC’s Rome Statute urging them to seek to improve African relations with the ICC. The letter’s specific recommendations to this end included the following:

  • more meetings and “exchange of views” between officials of the African Union and the ICC;
  • establishment by the African Union of an ICC liaison office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia;
  • fulfillment by states parties of their obligations under the ICC treaty to implement warrants and decisions of the court; and
  • improvement of national justice systems so that they might pursue persons accused of the core crimes that the ICC now prosecutes – genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes – domestically, as envisaged by the ICC Statute’s complementarity principle.

International Criminal Court: Recent Developments in Other ICC Investigations and Cases

Recent developments in the ICC’s Libyan investigation and cases have been examined.[1] There also have been interesting developments in four of the other situations under investigation by the ICC: the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC or Congo), Uganda, Darfur (Sudan), and the Ivory Coast.

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda

Congo. The evidence and arguments in the ICC’s first case to go to trial are over, and the decision of the Trial Chamber is expected early in 2012.[2] The ICC’s Deputy Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, recently reflected on the lessons of this case for the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP).[3]

  • Foremost was implementation of  the prosecution’s conceded obligation to disclose to the defense (a) incriminating evidence to be used by the prosecution; (b) evidence that is potentially exonerating or may affect the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence; and (c) evidence that is material to the preparation of the defense. Complications arose in this case because of the prosecution’s countervailing duty of confidentiality towards certain witnesses, and the Appeals Chamber decided that the Court had to respect such confidentiality agreements. Thereafter protective procedures were developed to provide such information to the defense despite such agreements.
  • Contrary to the practice of the ad hoc international criminal tribunals and U.S. courts, the ICC has held that the parties and counsel cannot meet with their witnesses in advance to discuss their anticipated testimony. Thus, what is referred to internationally as “witness proofing” is prohibited.
  • Some witnesses, especially former child soldiers, had been admitted into the Court’s witness protection program, and the Trial Chamber allowed them to testify with voice and face distortion and pseudonyms to protect their identity from the public while providing that information to the defense.[4]
  • Some other witnesses provided testimony via video link from the DRC without any technical problems.
  • The prosecution uses confidential intermediaries in the field, in the DRC in this case, to facilitate contact with potential witnesses and other sources of information. In this case, the defense alleged that some intermediaries were suggesting false testimony be given, and problems arose over the Trial Chamber’s order for disclosure of the identity of the intermediaries before protection had been provided to them.

The DRC’s presidential and parliamentary elections will be on November 28th, and reports of pre-election violence prompted the ICC’s OTP to issue a public statement that it was closely monitoring the situation and would investigate and prosecute any crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction that were committed.[5]

Joseph Kony
President Al Bashir

Uganda. The ICC has issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and three other top members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but they all are at large.[6] In October President Obama ordered the deployment of 100 U.S. armed military advisors to central Africa to assist local forces in combating the LRA. The President did so pursuant to the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. If the U.S. forces assisted in the arrest of any of these top LRA leaders, they would be turned over to the ICC.[7]

Sudan (Darfur). The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir, who is the current head of state and who is still at large.[8] Recently Bashir was in Malawi and was not arrested even though Malawi as an ICC State Party had an obligation to do so. As a result, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber requested Malawi to submit observations on its failure to arrest Bashir.[9]

Ivory Coast. In early October the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber authorized the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation of the situation in the Ivory Coast.[10] Later that same month the Prosecutor visited the country to meet with government officials, members of the Opposition, victims and the country’s Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission.[11]


[1] Post: International Criminal Court: Recent Developments in the ICC’s Libyan Investigation and Cases (Nov. 16, 2011).

[2] Post: International Criminal Court: ICC’s First Trial To End This Week (Aug. 24, 2011).

[3] Bensouda, Update on Trials and the Closing of the First Case (Oct. 5, 2011), www2.icc-cpi.int/nr/exeres/2386f5cb-b2a5-45dc-b66f-17e762f77b1f.htm.

[4] Post: International Criminal Court: Protection of Witnesses (Aug. 19, 2001).

[5] ICC, ICC Prosecutor: we are closely monitoring the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Nov. 11, 2011).

[6] Post: International Criminal Court’s Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011); ICC, Situations and Cases, www2.icc-cpi.int/Menus/ICC/Situations+and+Cases.

[7] Shanker & Gladstone, Armed U.S. Advisers to Help Fight African Renegade Group, N.Y. Times (Oct. 14, 2011); Wikisource, Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, http://en.wikisource.org/wiki; U.S. White House, Statement by the President on the Signing of the Lord’s ResistanceArmy Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (May 24, 2010), http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/statement-president-signing-Lords-resistance-army-disarmament-and-northern-uganda-r.

[8]  Post: International Criminal Court’s Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: ICC Prosecutor Updates the U.N. Security Council on Sudan (Darfur) (June 17, 2011); International Criminal Justice: Libya, Sudan, Rwanda and Serbia Developments (July 4, 2011).

[9] ICC Press Release, Pre-Trial Chamber I requests observations from Malawi on the enforcement of warrants of arrest against Omar Al Bashir (Oct. 19, 2011).

[10] Post: International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast (May 23, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Investigation of Ivory Coast Situation Is Authorized (Oct. 3, 2011).

[11] ICC, Statement by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on official visit to Cote d’Ivoire, October 15-16 (Oct. 14, 2011).

International Criminal Court: Investigation of Ivory Coast Situation Is Authorized

On October 3, 2011, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorized the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation of the situation in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivorie) for possible crimes against humanity and war crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction since November 28, 2010.[1]

Ivory Coast has been in turmoil since a coup in 1999 and a flawed 2000 election in which Laurent Gbagbo was elected president for a five-year term. Gbagbo, however, failed to hold an election in 2005 and was still in office when an election was held in November 2010. He was defeated in that election by Alassane Outtara, but Gbagbo refused to turn over power to Ouattara. Thereafter there was armed conflict between supporters of the two men that is the focus of the now authorized ICC investigation. In that conflict approximately 3,000 people were killed, and 500,000 people fled into neighboring countries. In April 2011 Gbagbo was forcibly removed from office and arrested with the help of French and U.N. military forces (In May Ouattara was formally inaugurated as president.) This August, Gbagbo and his wife were charged with looting, armed robbery and embezzlement by the country’s prosecutor.[2]

The Ivory Coast situation is an excellent illustration of the checks and balances within the ICC. One of the ways an investigation can be started by the ICC Prosecutor is on his own initiative (proprio motu), but that can happen if and only if a three-judge Pre-Trial Chamber authorizes the investigation, which is what just happened with the Ivory Coast.[3]

Such authorization is not automatic and cannot be presumed.

The Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision to authorize the Ivory Coast investigation is an 86-page careful analysis of the many legal conditions that must be satisfied for such an authorization. It concludes with a statement that one of the three judges will be filing a separate and partially dissenting opinion.[4]

The first condition was ICC jurisdiction over the Ivory Coast. It is not a State Party to the Court’s Rome Statute, but in April 2003 it submitted a declaration to the Court that the country accepted ICC jurisdiction for crimes on its territory since September 19, 2002 and for an unspecified period of time thereafter. The validity of this declaration was confirmed in a December 2010 letter from President-elect Ouattara, who pledged full cooperation with the Court in particular for crimes after March 2004. In addition, in May 2011 President Ouattara sent a letter to the Court in which he said that he believed crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction had been committed since the elections of 2010 and requested the ICC’s assistance in prosecuting perpetrators of such crimes. Therefore, the Pre-Trial Chamber concluded that the Court had jurisdiction over the situation in the Ivory Coast.[5]

The Pre-Trial Chamber then considered the materials regarding possible crimes committed by the pro-Gbagbo forces and concluded that there was reason to believe that they had committed crimes against humanity by murder, rape, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearances and torture and other inhumane acts.[6] The pro-Gbagbo forces also had been shown possibly to have committed war crimes in an armed conflict not of an international character by murders, intentional attacks on civilian populations and U.N. personnel, rape and sexual violence.[7]

The Pre-Trial Chamber also considered whether pro-Ouattara forces had committed similar crimes and concluded that there was reason to believe that they had. Their possible crimes against humanity were murder, rape and imprisonment and deprivation of liberty. Their possible war crimes were murder, rape, pillage, torture and other cruel treatment.[8]

The Pre-Trial Chamber emphasized that the authorization included continuing crimes after the Prosecutor’s application to the Chamber on June 23, 2011.[9] The Prosecutor also was asked in one month to submit additional materials for possible crimes in the Ivory Coast from 2002 (when the ICC commenced operations) through 2010.[10]

Last month President Ouattara appointed 11 people to the country’s new Commission on Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation. Although modeled after South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it is unclear if it will be issuing amnesties and pardons.[11]

This Commission’s goals might be seen as conflicting with the ICC’s investigation and possible prosecution of people for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in the country, but immediately after the Pre-Trial Chamber’s authorization of the ICC investigation, its Prosecutor stated that the investigation “should be part of national and international efforts to prevent future crimes in [the country” and that the Commission “would be a central piece of such efforts. National authorities could define other activities to help the victims, ensure peaceful coexistence and prevent future violence. Promoting justice and reconciliation . . . must be our common endeavour.”[12]

This is the Court’s seventh investigation, all from Africa. Three of the others are by submissions from States Parties: Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Two are from submissions from the U.N. Security Council: Darfur (Sudan) and Libya. The other, Kenya, was another Pre-Trial Chamber approval of an investigation initiated by the Prosecutor.[13]


[1] Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situtation in the Republic of Cote d’Ivorie, (ICC Pre-Trial Ch. Oct. 3, 2011); ICC, Press Release: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber III authorizes the Prosecutor to launch an investigation in Cote d’Ivorie (Oct. 3, 2011); Assoc. Press, Int’l Court IJs Ivory Coast Violence Probe, N.Y. Times (Oct. 3, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast (May 23, 2011).

[2] Id.; Nossiter, Sayare & Bukefsky, Leader’s Arrest in Ivory Coast Ends Standoff, N.Y. Times (April 11, 2011); BBC, Ivory Coast reconciliation commission launched, BBC News (Sept. 6, 2011).

[3] Post: International Criminal Court: Introduction (April 28, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast (May 23, 2011).

[4] Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situtation in the Republic of Cote d’Ivorie, (ICC Pre-Trial Ch. Oct. 3, 2011).

[5]  Id. ¶¶ 10-15.

[6]  Id. ¶¶ 51-91.

[7]   Id. ¶¶ 127-153.

[8]  Id. ¶¶ 95-116, 157-172.

[9]  Id. ¶¶ 3, 179.

[10]  Id. ¶ 213.

[11]  BBC, Ivory Coast reconciliation commission launched, BBC News (Sept. 6, 2011);BBC, Ivory Coast gets truth and reconciliation commission, BBC News (Sept. 28, 2001);Ivory Coast launches reconciliation panel,al Jazeera.net (Sept. 28, 2011).

[12] ICC, Press Release: ICC Prosecutor: This decision ensures justice for victims in Cote d’Ivoire. I will conduct effective, independent and impartial investigations, (Oct. 3, 2011).

[13]  Post: International Criminal Court: Investigations and Prosecutions (April 28, 2011).

International Criminal Court: Issuance of Libyan Arrest Warrants and Other Developments

On June 27th, the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber issued warrants of arrest for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi for crimes against humanity (murder and persecution) allegedly committed across Libya from 15 February 2011 until at least 28 February 2011, through the State apparatus and Security Forces.[1]

The Chamber concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the three suspects committed the alleged crimes and that their arrests appear necessary in order to ensure their appearances before the Court; to ensure that they do not continue to obstruct and endanger the Court’s investigations; and to prevent them from using their powers to continue the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.

Apprehending the suspects will be a particular challenge for the ICC and its supporters. U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970 that referred the situation to the Court obligates the Libyan authorities to cooperate with the ICC. However, Gaddafi and the Libyan leadership have given no indication that they would cooperate at all with the Court. The warrants could also make it more difficult for Gaddafi to negotiate an exit into exile since he has few friends globally and all current 114 ICC States Parties are under an obligation to arrest him. Moreover, it is clear from this and other cases that the ICC Prosecutor and judges believe that they are obliged to proceed with a case referred by the Security Council if the evidence justifies it.

This challenge to the international community could prove an important opportunity for U.S. leadership and support to the Court. The U.S. has been working publicly to engage with the Court and support ICC cases. In particular, it has backed the Court’s effort to investigate and prosecute recent crimes in Libya. The arrest warrants issued today provide a new and concrete opportunity to advance U.S. national interests and to support international criminal justice. For this reason and since July 17 is International Justice Day, the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC) has created an International Justice Day alert action. It urges President Obama to help fulfill the mandate of Resolution 1970 by helping to carry out the arrest warrants issued today. Please sign and submit the letter to the President: http://www.change.org/petitions/ask-president-obama-to-support-the-icc-on-libya-and-help-arrest-gaddafi.

Two other recent developments should be mentioned.

Last week, on June 24th, Tunisia filed its documents acceding to the Court’s Rome Statute. Effective September 1, 2011, it will be the 116th State Party to the Statute.[2]

On June 23rd, the ICC Prosecutor announced that he had made a formal application to the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation of possible crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Ivory Coast since November 28, 2010.[3]


[1]  ICC Press Release, Pre-Trial Chamber I issues three warrants of arrest for Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdulla Al-Senussi(June 27, 2011); Simons, Hague Court Issues Warrant for Qaddafi for War Crimes, N.Y. Times (June 27, 2011). See Post: International Criminal Court: Investigations and Prosecutions (April 25, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Libya Investigation Status (May 8, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Three Libyan Arrest Warrants Sought (May 16, 2011); Post: International Criminal Court: Investigation of Gang-Rape in Libya (May 17, 2011). The Libyan situation was referred to the ICC by the U.N. Security Council. (Id.)

[2] ICC Press Release, Tunisia becomes the 116th State to join the ICC’s governing treaty, the Rome Statute (June 24, 2011).

[3]  ICC Press Release, ICC Prosecutor requests judges for authorization to open an investigation in Cote d’Ivoire (June 23, 2011).

The International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Seeks To Open Investigation of Ivory Coast

On May 19, 2011, the ICC Prosecutor advised the President of the Court of a forthcoming application to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor into the situation in the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) since November 28, 2010.[1]

After a preliminary examination, the ICC Prosecutor concluded that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed in Côte d’Ivoire since that date.[2]

Ivory Coast once was one of Africa’s richest, but has been devastated by years of unrest, political division and civil war. The country is still reeling from a four-month armed standoff that killed as many as 3,000 people and that sent tens of thousands of refugees fleeing violence into neighboring lands.[3]

On May 21, Alassane Ouattara was formally inaugurated as the country’s president nearly six weeks after his predecessor was forcibly removed from office with the help of French and United Nations military strikes when he refused to leave office after losing the presidential election.[4]

Also last week Grenada became the 115th state to join the ICC.[5]


[1] ICC, Press Release: Situation in [Ivory Cost] assigned to Pre-Trial Chamber (May 20, 2011).

[2]  Id.

[3]  E.g., Nossiter, In Belated Inauguration, Ivory Coast’s President Urges Unity (May 21, 2011); Times Topic, Ivory Coast, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/ivorycoast/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=ivory%20coast&st=cse.

[4]  Id.

[5] ICC, Press Release: Grenada becomes the 115th State to join the Rome Statute (May 20, 2011).