What you need to know about the role and operations of the ICC

Following the controversy surrounding Sudanese President, The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been criticized for allegedly only opening investigations in Africa.

Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s leader indicted by the ICC, managed to leave South Africa despite a high court order banning him from leaving the country. Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the ICC for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur, arrived in South Africa in June 2015 to attend the African Union summit.

To get more insight on the mandate of the ICC, CapeTalks/ 702’s Redi Tlhabi spoke to Fadi El Abdallah, ICC Spokesperson:

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an independent and permanent court. Its mandate is to fight the impunity for the highest responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide whenever the ICC has the jurisdiction because there are specific rules about where the ICC can intervene. It is created by an international treaty that means that primarily there is a jurisdiction covers only the states that decided to join the ICC. This means that the court can investigate and prosecute about the crimes that are committed yon the territory of state that are party or by the citizens of that state.

Fadi El Abdallah, ICC Spokesperson

According to El Abdallah, there is another way of jurisdiction which is an exception and that is when the Security Council put an obligation on the state that is not party to the ICC to cooperate with the court, which was the situation in Sudan with regards to Darfur as well as the situation in Libya.

El Abdallah also said that the ICC is working in complementarity with the national justice of the country in inquiry. If those responsible for war crimes and genocides are prosecuted nationally then the ICC will not intervene but if there’s is no judiciary mechanism on the national level, that’s where the ICC gets involved.

According To El Abdallah, the ICC currently has nine investigations from eight countries; out of this nine only two were at the request of the Security Council and five were at the request of the African government. In Kenya the prosecutor opened the investigations on her own initiative based on the political agreement in that country. This was on the condition that if they fail to prosecute then the ICC will intervene.

With regards to Sudan, El Abdallah says that legally, the ICC has the jurisdiction over Darfur because of the Security Council referral. And the point that Sudanese is not a signatory of the ICC does not exempt Sudan from the mandate of the ICC.

Here are some of the twitter responses to the topic:

Listen to the full conversation on The Redi Tlhabi Show:


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