Prosecuting Crimes in the Name of International Justice
With the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002, the world began to fulfill the post-World War II promise of "never again." The ICC is the world's first permanent, international judicial body capable of bringing perpetrators to justice and providing redress to victims when states are unable or unwilling to do so. This represents a major stride for international justice.
Amnesty International campaigns for:
- All governments to ratify the Rome Statute to ensure that it has the broadest jurisdiction.
- All governments to enact effective implementing legislation ensuring that they can prosecute the crimes before national courts and cooperate fully with the Court.
- The Assembly of States Parties made up of countries that have ratified the Rome Statute to provide full support and oversight of the Court.
- All governments to cooperate fully with the Court in investigating and prosecuting the crimes.
- The Court to investigate and prosecute crimes in accordance with the highest standards of international justice.
The Rome Statute of the ICC incorporates the best-evolved, most comprehensive understanding of what constitutes a fair trial. It ensures that the accused receives a public and fair hearing conducted impartially. With the exception of a jury trial, the Rome Statute contains every due process protection in the U.S. Constitution. The death penalty is excluded.
The Court has the authority to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national authorities are unable or unwilling to do so. The Court therefore acts as a catalyst for states to fulfill their primary obligations to investigate and prosecute the crimes. The Court only has jurisdiction over crimes committed after July 1st, 2002, when the Rome Statute entered into force. The ICC does not have a police force of its own to arrest suspects. It must rely on the cooperation of national police services to make arrests and hand over suspects to the Court.
The Court may investigate and prosecute an individual when: (a) the accused is a citizen of an ICC member state; (b) the alleged crime took place on the territory of an ICC member state; (c) the U.N. Security Council asks the ICC to open an investigation; or (d) a country voluntarily accepts ICC jurisdiction. The ICC can bring to trial an individual regardless of his or her civilian or military status or official position. Note that the U.N. Security Council can vote to defer any investigation or prosecution.
Since the adoption of the Rome Statute, 114 countries of the world have ratified it. Only one country, the United States of America, has actively to limit the Court’s jurisdiction and to prevent other countries from cooperating with it. However, its opposition has diminished significantly in recent years as the work of the Court has shown the US government’s concerns to be unfounded.