Cote D’Ivoire: ICC Prosecutor ready to request judges for authorization to open an investigation.
Tomorrow 23 June 2011, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, will request authorization from the Judges to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Cote d’Ivoire. If the Chamber grants the authorization the Office of the Prosecutor will open an impartial investigation into the crimes committed there.
This is the first time the ICC may open an investigation following a declaration of a non State Party which has however accepted the jurisdiction of the Court.
So far, ICC opened investigation in three situations after the President of a State party referred the situation: President Museveni in Uganda, President Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo and President Bozize in Central African Republic.
African countries led the United Nation Security Council referrals in two different situations: on 31 March 2005, Benin and Tanzania voted in the UN Security Council to refer the Darfur situation to the Court and on 26 of February 2011 South Africa, Gabon and Nigeria voted in the UN Security Council to refer the Libya situation to the ICC. On March 2010 the Court approved the Prosecutor’s request to open an investigation in the Kenya situation, the first investigation opened by the Court independently. In Cote d’Ivoire, both Presidents Gbagbo and Outtara accepted jurisdiction of the ICC.
The situation in Côte d’Ivoire has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) since 1 October 2003 after the Government of Côte d’Ivoire lodged a declaration accepting jurisdiction of the Court. The Office initially focused its analysis on alleged crimes committed in 2002-2005. However, violence has reached unprecedented levels in the aftermath of the presidential election held on 28 November 2010.
In December 2010, the newly elected President of Côte d’Ivoire; Alassane Ouattara sent another letter to the OTP confirming acceptation of the jurisdiction of the Court for Rome Statute crimes committed in Côte d’Ivoire.
On 4 May 2011, the Prosecutor received a further letter from President Ouattara requesting that the Office of the Prosecutor conduct independent and impartial investigations into the most serious crimes committed since 28 November 2010 on the entire territory of Côte d’Ivoire. The Office has gathered information from multiple sources, including both parties to the conflict, Ivorian NGOs, international NGOs, and international bodies, such as UNOCI and the independent international commission of inquiry mandated by the Human Rights Council. In light of the Rome Statute criteria, the Prosecutor has concluded that there is a reasonable basis to open an investigation in Côte d’Ivoire.
The Prosecutor will file his request tomorrow. ICC judges will make a decision, also taking account of representations sent by victims following the OTP’s public notice of 17 June.
If the Chamber grants the Prosecutor authorization to investigate, an independent and impartial investigation will be opened into alleged crimes committed in Côte d’Ivoire. Based on the evidence collected during the course of the investigation, the Prosecutor will request ICC judges for either summons to appear or arrest warrants for those believed to be most responsible for alleged crimes in Côte d’Ivoire.
Source: Office of the Prosecutor