11 November 2007

The International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor can start an investigation into suspected crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after 1 July 2002:
  • When the United Nations Security Council refers to the Court’s Prosecutor a situation which it decides is a threat to international peace and security;
  • When a country which has ratified the Rome Statute refers a situation to the Court;
  • When the prosecutor acting on any information applies for and is granted permission by the Pre-Trial Chamber to start an investigation on his or her own motion.
The United Nations Security Council, when acting pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations can refer any situation in the world to the Prosecutor. When states refer cases or the Prosecutor starts an investigation on his or her own motion it can only investigate crimes committed by the nationals of countries which have ratified or crimes committed on the territory of a country that has ratified.  

Once an investigation has been launched, the Office of the Prosecutor will conduct detailed investigations to gather evidence of crimes of criminal responsibility.  Once it has sufficient evidence, the Office of the Prosecutor can apply to the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue arrest warrants charging individuals with crimes so that they will be surrendered to the Court for trial.

To date, the International Criminal Court has started four investigations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Darfur, Sudan and Central African Republic. It has issued seven arrest warrants and one person has been surrendered to the Court for trial.

Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo

Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Uganda
Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Darfur, Sudan
Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Central African Republic

Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Democratic Republic of Congo

On 23 June 2004, the Prosecutor launched the first investigation of the International Criminal Court into crimes committed during the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since 1 July 2002 -- when the Court’s jurisdiction began. This followed a referral of the situation by the DRC government.

The decade-long conflict has claimed more than 4 million lives in the DRC. Both the DRC government armed forces and armed opposition groups have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, including, murder, rape, using child soldiers, sexual slavery, and other forms of sexual violence.

On 17 March 2006, the International Criminal Court unsealed an arrest warrant for Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, alleged founder and leader of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC), who was in custody in the DRC and who was surrendered to the Court on 20 March 2006.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is charged with enlisting children under the age of fifteen, conscripting children under the age of fifteen and using children under the age of fifteen to participate actively in hostilities. The prosecution of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo will be the Court’s first case. Investigations into other crimes in DRC are continuing.

Amnesty International calls for all crimes committed in the DRC to be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, the national authorities of DRC and other countries exercising universal jurisdiction, for the truth about the crimes to be told and for victims to receive full and effective reparations.

Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Uganda

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court launched an investigation on 27 July 2004 into crimes committed since 1 July 2002 -- when the Court’s jurisdiction began. This followed a referral by the government of Uganda.

During the more than two-decade long conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army and government forces, widespread killings, crimes of sexual violence, forcible recruitment of child soldiers and displacement have been committed against the civilian population.

On 14 October 2005, the Court unsealed its first ever arrest warrants against five senior leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army -- Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya -- charging them with crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, sexual enslavement and directing an attack against a civilian populations.  

In November 2006, the Court confirmed that Raska Lukwiya had died without being arrested. The other four men remain at large. Amnesty International is campaigning for the men to be arrested without further delay.

Amnesty International calls for the investigation of all crimes committed in Uganda, including those committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and government forces, and for them to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, the national authorities of Uganda and other countries exercising universal jurisdiction, for the truth about the crimes to be told and for victims to receive full and effective reparations.

Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Darfur, Sudan

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1593 on 31 March 2005. The resolution referred the situation in Darfur since 1 July 2002 -- when the Court’s jurisdiction began -- to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, following campaigning by Amnesty International and other non-governmental organizations.

More than two million civilians have been killed, raped, tortured and forcibly evicted from their homes during the conflict in the region.

This was the first time that the United Nations Security Council referred a situation to the International Criminal Court and the first time the Court was granted jurisdiction over crimes committed in a country that had not ratified the Rome Statute.

The International Criminal Court launched an investigation into crimes committed in Darfur on 6 June 2005.

On 1 May 2007, the Court issued two arrest warrants for former Minister of the Interior Ahmad Muhammad Harun and renowned Janjawid leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abdelrahman (also known as Ali Kushayb) who are charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Amnesty International is campaigning for them to be arrested and surrendered to the Court.  The Sudan government is, however, publicly refusing to do so.

Amnesty International calls for all crimes committed in Darfur to be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, the national authorities of Sudan and other countries exercising universal jurisdiction, for the truth about the crimes to be told and for victims to receive full and effective reparations.

Investigation and prosecution of crimes in Central African Republic

The International Criminal Court Prosecutor launched an investigation on 22 May 2007 into crimes, including killings, rape and sexual violence and looting committed in 2002 and 2003 in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Amnesty International has for several decades documented serious human rights abuses during armed conflict in the Central African Republic, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, which have to date been committed with impunity.

Amnesty International calls for all crimes committed in Central African Republic to be investigated and prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, the national authorities of Central African Republic and other countries exercising universal jurisdiction, for the truth about the crimes to be told and for victims to receive full and effective reparations.