International Criminal Court (ICC): ICC Jurisdiction, HQ, functions, Limitations | UPSC Notes

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International Criminal Court (ICC): ICC Jurisdiction, HQ, functions, Limitations | UPSC Notes

The ICC is the world’s first permanent international criminal court. It is run by an international law called “The Rome Statute.”It looks into and, if necessary, tries people who are accused of the most serious crimes that the international community cares about. These are genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of invasion.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) tries to hold criminals accountable for their actions and stop them from happening again through international criminal justice.

• India, unlike the US and China, is not a signatory to the Rome Statute.

How did it get started?

• On July 17, 1998, 120 countries signed the Rome Statute to make the world a more fair place.

• On July 1, 2002, the Rome Statute went into effect after 60 states ratified it. This made the ICC official. Since it can’t deal with crimes that happened in the past, the ICC only deals with crimes that happened on or after this date.

• After the changes made in 2010, the Rome Statute also sets new rules for how victims should be represented in court, makes sure that trials are fair, and protects the rights of the defenders.

• Today, the “Rome Statute” is the main legal document that guides the ICC. It is explained in more detail in other legal texts like the Elements of Crimes, Rules of Procedure and Evidence, and more.

The facts and Figures

• More than 900 people from about 100 States work for the ICC now.

• English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish are the recognised languages.

• The ICC has 6 field offices: Kinshasa and Bunia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”), Kampala in Uganda, Bangui in the Central African Republic (“CAR”), Nairobi in Kenya, and Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire.

• It can be used in both English and French.

• The ICC is based in The Hague, which is in the Netherlands.

Organisational Structure of the ICC

• The Assembly of States Parties is in charge of running the Court. It chooses judges and the Prosecutor and approves the budget for the ICC.

• The ICC has four parts:

The Presidency handles relations with other states, manages judicial matters like putting judges, situations, and cases in the right divisions, and is in charge of the Registry’s administrative work.

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18 judges in 3 groups make up the judicial system. Pre-trial, trial, and appeals are all parts of the legal process.

The Office of the Prosecutor is in charge of preliminary investigations, cases, and trials.

Registry does things that don’t have to do with the courts, like security, translation, marketing, helping lawyers for the defence and the victims, etc.

• The Trust Fund for Victims helps, supports, and makes up for wrongs done to victims.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has field offices in several of the countries where investigations are taking place. The ICC detention centre is where people who have been arrested by the ICC are held in a safe, secure, and humane way. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is in charge of inspecting the Detention Centre and can go there at any time to check on things.

The ICC’s Jurisdiction and How It Works

• The Rome Statute gives the International Criminal Court authority over four major crimes:

Genocide is a crime

Crimes against people

Crime of Aggression Crime of War

• The Court can take action if genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes were committed on or after July 1, 2002;

• The crimes were committed by a citizen of a State Party, on the territory of a State Party, or in a State that has agreed to the Court’s authority;

• The crimes were sent to the ICC Prosecutor by the UN Security Council (UNSC) in response to a resolution passed under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

• As of July 17, 2018, any situation that seems like an act of aggression could be sent to the Court by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, whether it includes States Parties or non-States Parties.

• The ICC is not meant to replace national criminal justice systems; it only prosecutes cases when states don’t want to or can’t do it themselves.The ICC is not a UN organisation, but it has a deal with the UN to work together.When a case doesn’t fall under the Court’s authority, the UN Security Council can send it to the ICC and give it authority over it. This has happened in both Darfur (in Sudan) and Libya.

Other information about the legal process

• The ICC doesn’t go after people who were under 18 when they did something wrong.

• Before the Prosecutor can investigate, he/she must perform a preliminary examination considering such matters as sufficient evidence, jurisdiction, gravity, complementarity, and the interests of justice.

• During an investigation, the Prosecutor must gather and share both evidence that points to guilt and evidence that points to innocence.

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• The accused is thought to be innocent until they are proven guilty. The Prosecutor has to prove his or her case.

• During all stages of proceedings (Pre-Trial, Trial, and Appeals), the defendant has the right to information in a language he or she fully understands. Because of this, ICC hearings are held in multiple languages, with teams of interpreters and translators at work.

• Before a case can go to trial, pre-trial judges make arrest warrants and make sure there is enough proof.

• The defendant is called a suspect during the Pre-Trial part. Once the case goes to trial and the charges are proven, the person who is being accused is called the defendant.

• Trial judges listen to what the Prosecutor, the Defence, and the lawyers for the victims have to say, make a decision, and, if the person is found guilty, decide on the term and how to pay for damages.

• requests judges decide on requests made by either the Prosecutor or the Defence.

• If a case is closed without a guilty verdict, the Prosecutor can reopen it with new proof.

What the ICC can’t do (Limitations of ICC)

• As a judicial institution, the ICC doesn’t have its own police force or enforcement body. Instead, it depends on cooperation with countries around the world, especially for making arrests, transferring arrested people to the ICC detention centre in The Hague, freezing suspects’ assets, and carrying out sentences.

• This State cooperation is problematic for a number of reasons. It means that the ICC chooses cases inconsistently, can’t take on hard cases, and loses legitimacy. It also makes the ICC less of a deterrent, because people who might commit war crimes know they can avoid being judged by the ICC by taking over the government and refusing to work with the ICC.

• There are not enough checks and balances on the ICC investigator and judges’ power.

• The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been accused of being a tool of Western empire and favouring strong countries over weak ones.

In 2020, the USA gave the International Criminal Court (ICC) officials who were looking into possible war crimes by US troops and its partners the power to be punished.

o The US order had been taken very seriously by the UN.

o The European Union said that the choice made by the United States was very worrying.

o The international group Human Rights Watch has noticed that by punishing people who look into war crimes, the USA is publicly siding with people who break human rights laws and try to hide them.

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• The ICC can’t give people the death penalty, but it can give them long jail terms of up to 30 years or life when the severity of the case calls for it.

• The International Criminal Court (ICC) can only handle crimes that happened after July 1, 2002, when the 1998 Rome Statute went into effect.

• The International Criminal Court (ICC) only has automatic authority over crimes committed on the territory of a state that has ratified the treaty, by a citizen of such a state, or when the UN Security Council sends a case to it.

People have questioned the court’s effectiveness because of problems with how it works and what it does, which cause delays and anger. The court also doesn’t have enough people or money to do its job.

How does the ICC differ from the ICJ?

• Unlike the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) is not part of the United Nations system. The relationship between the UN and the ICC is controlled by a separate agreement. It was set up in 1945 and is based in The Hague, Netherlands. A member of the Court is Indian judge Dalveer Bhandari.

On the other hand, the ICC goes after individuals for crimes that were performed in a member state or by a citizen of that state.

India and ICC

India did not sign the Rome Statute, so it is not a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) because of following reasons:

• State sovereignty • National interests • It’s hard to gather evidence • It’s hard to find fair prosecutors • The meaning of a crime

Way Forward

• States should openly encourage cooperation with the ICC and support human rights defenders who work for international justice and the ICC’s mission.

For the court to be more trustworthy, it needs to include more permanent members of the UN and make investigations and charges stronger.

The ICC’s role is very important because international justice can help post-conflict countries achieve long-term peace, stability, and fair growth.

Having said that, it is also important to know that the ICC works hard through workshops and conferences around the world to help people understand each other and work together.