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The International Criminal Court: a watchdog for justice in the world

The International Criminal Court is governed by the following rules the Rome Statute which came into effect on July 2, 2002. It is composed of a Presidency, Judicial Divisions, Office of the Prosecutor and Secretariat. The Assembly of States Parties is not integrated into the Court's organizational chart to ensure its autonomy, but this legislative body is responsible for overseeing the Court's performance.

Due to the seriousness of the facts that can be reported before its jurisdiction first- and second-degree crimes, their difficulty in investigating them, Since a large number of people, institutions and even states are usually involved, a consummate effort of independence in the investigation and special talents to find the necessary data is necessary to determine responsibilities in these cases.

In view of the crimes against humanitygenocides, crimes of aggression, genocides, crimes of aggression and war crimes that have been committed on the planet at different times and that have not always received due punishment, the International Criminal Court emerged as an attempt to bring justice in these cases that have caused strong consequences in the world.

It began operating in 2003 as a permanent court. The new court of last resort for the prosecution of serious crimes replaced the ad hoc tribunals constituted in the history of the united nationsThe Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (1993) and the Tribunal for Rwanda (1994). Previously there were two precedents: the Military Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo, created by the victorious countries of World War II to judge the defeated. On the other hand, those of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were established by the Security Council, interpreting that the commission of massacres and other serious violations of human rights in those countries was a violation of international law. international humanitarian law constituted a threat to international peace and security. 

For this reason, we must go back to the origins and remember the illustrious Raphael Lemkin who in addition to creating the word GenocideHe was also a victim and was able to fulfill his purpose in life by being the driving force behind the convention for the prevention and punishment of this crime, which should have as a common denominator that they are perpetrated with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such, and some modern doctrinarians have included the thesis of Political Genocide..

These characteristics of the crime have been adopted in Article 6 of the Rome Statute, which criminalizes these actions against:

  • Killing of group members;
  • Serious injury to the physical or mental integrity of the members of the group;
  • Intentional subjection of the group to conditions of existence that will lead to its physical destruction, in whole or in part;
  • Measures to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children from the group to another group. 

Likewise, Article 7 of the Statute indicates that crimes against humanity must have the following characteristics common denominator a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population and with knowledge of that attack in relation to the crimes of:

  •  Murder;
  • Extermination;
  • Slavery; 
  • Deportation or forcible transfer of population; Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
  • Torture;
  • Rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, forced sterilization or other sexual abuse of comparable gravity;
  • Persecution of a group or collectivity with its own identity based on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender or other grounds universally recognized as unacceptable under international law;
  • Enforced disappearance of persons;
  • The crime of apartheid;
  • Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. 

Not to be forgotten in the Statute War Crimes in its Article 8.

How does an ICC investigation start?

International Criminal Court investigation begins when the crimes were committed by a national State Party, on the territory of a State Party, or in a State that has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court. Crimes referred to the ICC Prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council are also taken into account.

Through its Prosecutor's Office, the court is examining whether there is sufficient evidence of serious crimes within the jurisdiction of the international tribunal. In addition, it assesses the existence of genuine national procedures, as well as the possibility that opening an in-depth investigation would serve the interests of justice and the victims involved. If the situation is within the guidelines required by the court, possible suspects will be identified and a more thorough investigation will be initiated.

Once the corresponding hearings have been held, at the evidentiary stage, judges evaluate all the evidence and issue a verdict to sentence the suspects. Sentences generated at the International Criminal Court can be up to 30 years imprisonment, or in exceptional circumstances life imprisonment.

In 2006 the International Criminal Court enforced the first conviction against Thomas LubangaIn 2009, it indicted for the first time a head of state (Sudan), Omar al Bashir, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Current events at the International Criminal Court

This court proceeded to open a preliminary investigation for the Venezuelan government.The investigation was initiated in February 2018 by prosecutor Fatou Bensouda with the intention of assessing whether there are grounds to investigate the Venezuelan State due to the alleged excessive force of State security agencies during the protests that occurred in 2017. The investigation was initiated in February 2018 by prosecutor Fatou Bensouda with the intention of assessing whether there are grounds to investigate the Venezuelan State for the complaints received regarding the protest situation. 

In the case of Venezuela it has been controversial due to the existence of a great international confrontation of a political nature, which generates a parallel judgment through the media that disseminate the news of the political spokespersons.

It is also found in preliminary investigation of countries such as Nigeria, Colombia, Guinea, Palestine and Ukraine for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Something that worries and The attacks on the International Criminal Court are a violation of the principle of progressiveness of human rights and should be addressed by the international community, including countries that unfortunately have not yet wanted to become members; a recent example is the one developed by the current government of the United States of America. who in the midst of the Covid - 19 pandemic, imposed sanctions by the Treasury Department through OFAC against the court officials who have investigated the involvement of U.S. forces in war crimes in Afghanistan. These sanctions include blocking the assets of court employees and prohibiting them from entering U.S. territory.

The actions were qualified by the International Criminal Court as an attempt to interfere in the legality and the rule of law.

For this reason, at Alan Aldana & Abogados, as experts in International Criminal Law, we support the International Criminal Court, and we hope that in its evolution and that of the principle of progressivity of human rights it can guarantee the effective judicial protection of all the cases it hears. we propose a new code of universal jurisdiction to prevent and punish other crimes that affect civilization and the development of humanity such as the Ecocide.