Detalle de la sede de la Corte Penal Internacional en La Haya (Países Bajos).
Picture of the headquarters of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Netherlands)
International Criminal Court
Created on the initiative of the UN on 17 July 1998 by means of the Rome Statute, the International Criminal Court entered into force on 1 July 2002. The establishment of an independent jurisdiction is a historic step towards globalisation of human rights. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent international tribunal in charge of judging those responsible for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes

The international community reached a historic milestone when 120 States adopted, on 17 July 1998, the Rome Statute, the instrument that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), which entered into force on 1 July 2002, upon ratification by 60 countries, including Spain (on 24 October 2000). Nowadays 124 countries have ratified the Rome Statute.

The ICC, based in The Hague (The Netherlands), is an independent international body that is not part of the United Nations structure, with which an agreement was signed on 4 October 2004, which regulates cooperation between the two institutions. It is mainly financed by the Member States, but also by voluntary contributions from governments, international organisations, individuals, companies and other entities.

Its creation was led by the need to have an organisation under these characteristics, as previously the Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials had been held in order to judge the crimes committed during World War II and the 90s of the 20th century, the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda were set up, but all of them were aimed at specific conflicts.

Spain is highly committed to the CPI and with the functions exercised as a universal institution that fights against the impunity of the most serious crimes. Spain has ratified the international instruments regulating the crimes known to the ICC and has strongly supported the work of the Court since its Statute entered into force. Special mention should be made to our country's support for the Trust Fund of the ICC for the benefit of the victims.

The ICC is a stable, permanent tribunal. It constitutes the first international jurisdiction with vocation and aspiration of universality, competent to prosecute natural persons, and, where appropriate, to identify the international criminal liability of the individual for the most serious crimes with certain transcendence for the international community. As set forth in art. 5 of its Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction with respect to war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

The ICC acts on the basis of the principle of complementarity with the national jurisdictions of States Parties, and intervenes in cases in which they do not exercise their competence or are not in a position to do so. This jurisdiction can be activated by the Prosecutor of the Court, the UN Security Council and by the States Parties to the Statute of the Court.

The ICC has jurisdiction only regarding crimes committed after the Statute entered into force (1 July 2002). If any State had ratified its Statute after this date, the Court could exercise its jurisdiction only regarding crimes committed after the Statute entered into force with relation to that State, unless the State declared to accept the competence of the Court since 1 July 2002.

In the event of crimes in which the exercise of the Court jurisdiction has been activated by a State Party or by the Office of the Prosecutor, the Court may exercise its jurisdiction only if the State in whose territory the conduct in question occurred, either the State corresponding to the nationality of the accused is part of the Rome Statute, or, not being so, agrees to accept that competence by express declaration.

The art. 27 of the Statute establishes that it may be equally applicable to all without any distinction based on the official position. In particular, the official position of a person, whether Head of State or Government, member of a government or parliament, elected representative or government official, shall exempt in no case from criminal liability or shall itself constitute a reason to reduce the penalty. Likewise, immunities and special procedural rules that entail the official position of a person, in accordance with domestic law or international law, will not prevent the Court from exercising its jurisdiction over it.

Jurisdiction crimes of the Court do not prescribe. The ICC shall only impose sentences for maximum period of 30 years in prison and, exceptionally, life imprisonment if the extreme seriousness of the case justifies it, but it can never impose a death penalty.

At the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held in Kampala (Uganda) in 2010, two amendments were adopted by consensus that broaden the definition of war crimes and classify the crime of aggression, defining it and establishing the conditions for exercising the Court jurisdiction in this regard. The new definition of the crime of aggression establishes that a person is committing this crime "when, being able to control or effectively direct the political or military action of a State, plans, prepares, begins or performs an act of aggression that, by its nature, gravity and scale, constitutes a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. The following is a list of assumptions that are considered acts of aggression. Spain ratified the Kampala Amendments on 25 September 2014.

The structure of the ICC is based on a Presidency, composed of three magistrates; the Judicial Division with three sections (Preliminary Hearing, First Instance and Appeals) ruled by18 judges; the Office of the Prosecutor and the Registry. Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, from Nigeria, currently holds the office of Chairman and Fatou Bensouda, from Gambia, is the Prosecutor. Approximately 700 people from 90 countries work for the Court, which has 6 offices in situ.

The International Criminal Court has been a fully functioning institution for more than eleven years. To date, 23 arrest warrants have been issued and the Office of the Prosecutor is currently conducting 11 major inquiries and 10 preliminary examinations. 4 cases are in the trial stage and 2 are in the appeal stage.

On 4 March 2009, the Court issued an arrest warrant against the Sudanese Prime Minister Omar al Bachir, due to war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the civilian population of the Darfur region between April 2003 and July 2008. It was the first arrest warrant issued against a president in office. Subsequently, the Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi became the second Head of State under an arrest warrant, which was shelved after his death during the Libyan uprising in 2011.

The Court has issued two condemnatory sentences so far: The first one convicted Thomas Lubanga on 10 July 2012; the second one convicted Germain Katanga, in 2014.

International Criminal Court

 

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