Public International Criminal Law – 2018 Year in Review

February 5, 2019 by Editor

By: Tanisha Singh

 

Commemoration of the Rome Statute

2018 marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Rome Statute—adopted on 17 July 1998—is the founding treaty of the ICC, which establishes the permanent international criminal court as a court of last resort with the aim of ending impunity and ensuring accountability for perpetrators.[1] The anniversary was commemorated in July with an event at the ICC headquarters attended by high-level representatives of more than thirty states.[2] Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Prosecutor, remarked that the anniversary presented an opportunity to recommit to the Rome Statute, and was echoed by state representatives in their calls for a commitment to justice.[3]

 

Notable Cases & Developments

In 2014, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened an investigation in relation to the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2012, following a referral by the Government of the CAR. This year, pursuant to an warrant issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC, Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona was arrested for his “alleged criminal responsibility” for several counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the western part of the Central African Republic.[4] Ngaïssona was the most senior leader and national general coordinator for the Anti-Balaka—a group alleged to have carried out a widespread and systematic attack on against in Muslim civilian population in the CAR, and anyone perceived to be in support of the Seleka.[5] Previously, Alfred Yekatom—allegedly in command of a group of 3,000 members operating with the Anti-Balaka movement—was surrendered to the ICC.[6] The ICC investigation encompasses both the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka actions in the CAR.[7]

In the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba Bemba Gombo, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC decided, by majority, to acquit Bemba from the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity—reversing the initial sentences of the Trial Chamber.[8] However, in relation to Bemba’s convictions on offences against the administration of justice, the Trial Chamber VII of the ICC sentenced Bemba to one-year imprisonment and a fine of EUR 300,000. In particular, these offences relate to intentional and corrupt actions to influence witnesses, and solicitation of false testimony of defense witnesses.[9]

Finally, while the U.S. State Department has not similarly labelled its actions, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution declaring that the actions of Myanmar security forces against the Rohingya population constituted genocide.[10]

 

 

 

 

[1] “Rome Statute 20th anniversary high-level commemorations generate strong calls for justice” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1398

[2] “Rome Statute 20th anniversary high-level commemorations generate strong calls for justice” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1398

[3] “Rome Statute 20th anniversary high-level commemorations generate strong calls for justice” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1398

[4] “Situation in Central African Republic II: Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona arrested for crimes against humanity and war crimes.” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1425

[5] “Situation in Central African Republic II: Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona arrested for crimes against humanity and war crimes.” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1425

[6] “Alfred Yekatom makes first appearance before the ICC.” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1419

[7] “Situation in Central African Republic II: Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona arrested for crimes against humanity and war crimes.” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=PR1425

[8] “ICC Appeals Chamber acquits Mr Bemba from charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1390

[9]Bemba et al. case: Trial Chamber VII delivers its re-sentencing decision.” See https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1407

[10] “House says Myanmar crimes against Rohingya are genocide.” See https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/13/politics/house-resolution-myanmar-genocide/index.html. See also Report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, available at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=23575&LangID=E