International Criminal Court commonly referred as the ICC is a permanent tribunal that prosecutes people for crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crimes of aggression (although though currently it does not have powers to prosecute or exercise any jurisdiction over crimes of aggression.) Since 1945, the courts creation has been constituted by the most significant international law reform. The International Criminal Court was found by the Rome Statute and it is therefore mandated to prosecute crimes that were committed after that date. This paper observes and explains and critiques the benefits of the International Criminal Court.
The court’s official settings and official seating is based at The Hague, Holland but the proceedings can as well take place anywhere outside the Hague. The treaty to justify its existence came into being in 1st July 2002. By March 2011, one hundred and fourteen countries had already joined the court. Some of the countries that have joined the court already are nearly all of the European countries as well as the Latin America and virtually half of the African countries. Further, thirty four countries have already signed but they are yet to ratify their membership status in the Rome Statute. Some of the states that have signed but not yet ratified their positions include Russia.
However, the law is very categorical concerning the acting of any of the unratified members. The law of treaties does oblige any of these countries to officially refrain from the “Acts” which might defeat the objects and purposes of the entire treaty. Three of those states have already unsigned the Rome Statute by revealing that they are no longer intending to be parties, and that, they do not have legal responsibilities that arises from their former representatives and their signatures to the Rome Statute. Generally, the court exercises jurisdiction in cases where the persons who are accused hails from party states and the committed crimes took place within the territories of their states or when situations are referred to the relevant courts by the United Nations Security Council. The ICC is designed in a way that it complements national judicial systems that exist. The ICC is mandated to exercise its jurisdiction only if the national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute crimes of that nature. The main responsibilities to punish or investigate crimes are left to individual states to conduct.
Currently, the ICC has officially opened investigations into around 6 various situations, coincidentally, all of them are from Africa. The situations which have been entered into are from: The Central African Republic, Northern Uganda, Libya, the Republic of Kenya, Sudan’s Darfur and lastly, the democratic republic of Congo. Three of these situations were referred to the International Criminal Court by the state parties and they include: The Central African Republic, Uganda and the Democratic republic of Congo. Two of the six cases were officially referred by the United Nations Security Council. The two include: Libya and Darfur. The remaining situation is the only one that was started proprio motu by the International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo in Kenya. The International Criminal Court has so far publicly indicted 23 people and currently, the proceedings against 21 individuals are ongoing. Of the 21 suspects who have been indicted by the ICC, eight of them are still fugitives while one of them is presumed to be dead, 5 are already in custody and 6 are expected to appear voluntarily before the ICC panel on 7th of April 2011. Those who are expected to appear and have already received summonses and they are all from Kenya and they are:
1. Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta (Deputy prime minister and finance minister)
2. Hon William Ruto (Suspended higher education minister and currently member of parliament for Eldoret North constituency)
3. Hon. Henry Kosgey (former industrialization minister and current member of parliament for Tinderet)
4. Ambassador Francis Muthaura (Head of civil service)
5. Mohamed Hussein Ali (Former police chief in Kenya and currently head of Kenya postal corporation)
6. Joshua Sang (As radio presenter who is presumed to have preached hate speech during the electioneering period in Kenya at the time of violence.)
Since its inception, the International Criminal Court has done a very incredible job despite the fact that it has been facing a lot of opposition from some states. Some of the top world dictators have been indicted and a good example being the former Liberian president Charles Taylor who is still detained. To my opinion, the international Criminal court is the best thing gift that the world has ever received. To Africa, the court has been the most wonderful benefactor given the fact that most of African countries are not yet fully civilized and they lack proper democratic structure of governance. Initially, the dictatorship in among African countries had escalated so much and the level of impunity had risen beyond imagination. Since the intervention by the International Criminal Court, the level of impunity has been minimized. According to the Australian former minister for foreign affairs hon. Alexander Downer most of the incumbents have been put on notice concerning their stealing of elections so that they can hold on to power forever. The International Criminal Court has so far proved to be just, impartial and non political when handling situations. The International Criminal Court handles and treats cases equally despite the statuses of the accused. The court is on records for setting a tribunal in Rwanda to investigate the genocide and since then, most of the dictators with such intentions have been fearful of doing such acts in fear of indictment by the court (foreignminister.gov, Para 1-15)
According to Zompetti, the International Criminal court’s punitive guidelines have made provisions for both compensatory and restorative measures. Institutional support has further provided through the witnesses and the victims units. Such schemes have yielded very positive results as far as law enforcement is concerned, both to the victims and the communities where the crimes were perpetrated. A single set of substantive and procedural laws have been equally applied to the proceedings and both parties before the court. As a result, such unity has led to more greater and consistent legal certainty. Another good thing about the court is that, the court has not been solely dependent on referrals by the security councils; this has made it less vulnerable to any political will by the Permanent Members of the Security Council. Prospective cases have not been stymied due to the fact that a single permanent member has not been able to use her veto powers to suspend any investigation. The Rome Statute has been a success following its contents of checks and balances that has ensured openness and transparency (Zompetti, Page 118-145)
Holmes suggests that, in order for it to ensure that it maintains its just processes; the ICC must consider some imperative factors during the proceedings and at investigation processes. Firstly, it must not entertain politics like it is happening with the Kenyan situation where the suspects are lamenting that they are targeted because they are presidential candidates. The court should continue to perform its duties as normal. The permanent members should not be allowed to interfere with cases through the use of their veto powers. The court should clearly put its mechanisms straight. It should avoid critics since some are there to destroy the good plans that are meant to benefit the helpless (Holmes O. Page 45-56)
The International Criminal Court should be given all the support it needs. Many poor and helpless countries from Africa have benefitted a lot with the good work the ICC has done. Many potential dictators are now fearful of applying their tyranny because they know that the court is there waiting for them. Despite the fact that the ICC has not made further convictions, most of the leaders who trigger violence during electioneering period have been indicted and therefore served as good examples to others with the same mentality. The court should be empowered and all the countries in the world must be drawn into it whether they like it or not, so that it can have sufficient powers to indict and even arrest anyone who commits crimes against humanity (Schiff, Page 89-100)
Holmes Oliver, (2008). The international Criminal Court and Problems of State Sovereignty. Berlin: GRIN publishers.
Schiff Benjamin, (2008). Building the International Criminal Court. New York. Cambridge University Press
Zompetti Suzette, (2004). The international criminal court: global politics and the quest for justice. New York. IDEA Publishers.
foreignminister.gov, (2007). International Criminal Court Regional Advocacy Seminar. Retrieved March 29, 2011 from http://www.foreignminister.gov.au/speeches/2007/070806_regional_advocacy.html