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#ICC: The demise of State-Referral?

The International Criminal Court is a Court of last resort. The Court is a permanent institution with powers to exercise its jurisdiction over persons who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes of international concern. Conscious of the history of criminal acts against people, the world envisaged to repress such crimes through the creation of a permanent criminal tribunal. The atrocities committed are now monitored by the ICC by bringing the perpetrators who bear the most responsibility to justice. Even with the legal backing, the ICC has faced challenges on the question of cases it brings to book and the situations it omits. Equally, the ICC has had its detractors as well as proponents. 

The Court's jurisdiction can be triggered by three ways. The first is the state-referral or the self-referral, the second is through the UN Security Council referral and the last is through the prosecutors own volition also referred to as proprio motu. Of particular interest, we shall look at the 'self-referral' or 'state-referral' technique of triggering the Court's jurisdiction. Article 14 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court allows a State Party to refer a situation, including crimes committed within the state's own jurisdiction, to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) for investigation. There is no doubt, this mode of referral has had controversies among legal scholars. It is worth noting that of the eight situations at the ICC, only the first three were state referrals. It has been argued, rightly so, that self-referrals are inconsistent with the independence of the Court and its complementarity principle. Others have argued that state-referrals have been used by governments to fight oppositions in their countries. The initial referral to the ICC was the Uganda self-referral in 2003. The government of Uganda referred the situation in northern Uganda where atrocities were being committed by the Lord's Resistant Army (LRA). In March 2004, DRC also referred the situation in the Ituri region in Congo to the Court. And in December 2004, the OTP received another self-referral from Central African Republic. Self-referrals are well within the confines of the complementarity principle in Article 17.  Article 17 on admissibility of cases, points out that a case is admissible only when a state is unwilling and genuinely unable to prosecute a case. 

Are we seeing the demise of state-referral?

We continue from here in a subsequent posting.....



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