Preliminary Examinations

By the end of 2013, the Office had considered information on crimes from numerous sources, including open sources, and a total of 10,470 “communications” received pursuant to article 15 of the Statute. If you would like to submit information on alleged crimes to the Prosecutor, please click here.

The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for determining whether a situation meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute (“Statute”) to warrant investigation by the Court. For this purpose, the Office analyses all situations brought to its attention based on statutory criteria and the information available.  The OTP is currently conducting preliminary examinations in ten situations:

Phase 2 - Subject-matter jurisdiction:

 
 
Phase 3 - Admissibility:
 
 
The preliminary examination of a situation may be initiated by: 
  1. a decision of the Prosecutor, taking into consideration any information on crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court, including information sent by individuals or groups, States, intergovernmental or non‐ governmental organisations;

  2. a referral from a State Party or the Security Council; or

  3. a declaration pursuant to article 12(3) by a State which is not a Party to the Statute.

Preliminary examination activities will be conducted in the same manner irrespective of whether the Office received a referral or acts on the basis of information of crimes obtained pursuant to article 15. The Office will analyse the seriousness of the information received and may seek additional information from States, organs of the United Nations, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations and other reliable sources that are deemed appropriate. The Office may also receive oral testimony at the seat of the Court.

Once a situation is thus identified, article 53(1)(a)‐(c) of the Statute establishes the legal framework for a preliminary examination. It provides that, in order to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation the Prosecutor shall consider:

  1. jurisdiction (temporal, material, and either territorial or personal jurisdiction);
  2. admissibility (complementarity and gravity); and
  3. the interests of justice.
 
In order to distinguish the situations that warrant investigation from those that do not, the Office has a filtering process comprising four consecutive phases:
 
  • In phase 1, the Office conducts an initial assessment of all information on alleged crimes received under article 15 (“article 15 communications”),to filter out information on crimes that are outside the jurisdiction of the Court.
  • In phase 2, it analyzes all information on alleged crimes received or collected to determine whether the preconditions to the exercise of jurisdiction under article 12 are satisfied and whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged crimes fall under the subject matter jurisdiction of the Court.
  • In phase 3, it analyzes admissibility in terms of complementarity and gravity.
  • In phase 4, having concluded from its preliminary examination that the case is admissible, it will examine the interests of justice. A recommendation that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice will be made only under highly exceptional circumstances.
 
Depending on the facts and circumstances of each situation, the Office may either decide:
 
  1. to decline to initiate an investigation where the information manifestly fails to satisfy the factors set out in article 53(1) (a)-(c);
  2. to continue to asses relevant national proceedings;
  3. to continue to collect information in order to establish sufficient factual and legal basis to render a determination; or
  4. to initiate the investigation, subject to judicial review as appropriate.
 
In order to promote transparency of the preliminary examination process the Office issues regular reports on its activities and provides reasoned responses for its decisions to either proceed or not proceed with investigations.
 
 
To date, the Office of the Prosecutor has made public its preliminary examination of 21 situations.  In three situations, the decision was made not to proceed to investigation. Eight preliminary examinations have proceeded to investigation.
 

A. Ongoing preliminary examinations: 

 

Ongoing examinations