Today, 5 July 2013, the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) assigned “the Situation on Registered Vessels of the Union of the Comoros, the Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia” to Pre-Trial Chamber I. This is a procedural matter only, and is not the beginning of an investigation.
Pre-Trial Chamber I will be responsible for any matter, request or information arising out of the situation, but will not play a role in determining whether or not an investigation is initiated. The Chamber is composed of three judges: Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (Argentina, Presiding Judge), Judge Hans-Peter Kaul (Germany) and Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert (Belgium).
This situation was referred to the Court earlier this year by the Union of the Comoros, a State Party to the Rome Statute. As this is a State referral, it is the Office of the Prosecutor that decides whether or not to open an ICC investigation, in accordance with the criteria set out in the Rome Statute. The Office of the Prosecutor is conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met.
Decision Assigning the Situation on Registered Vessels of the Union of the Comoros, the Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia to Pre-Trial Chamber I
Background on the referral
On 14 May 2013, the Prosecutor of the ICC received a referral from the Union of the Comoros, “with respect to the 31 May 2010 Israeli raid on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla bound for Gaza Strip”.
The referral makes reference to seven vessels that were allegedly attacked, and requests the Prosecutor to investigate the event, specifically on “one of the passenger vessels of the humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza on 31 May 2010, in which nine (9) victims were killed on board and more than dozens were seriously injured, as a consequence of the attacks of the Israel Defence Forces… in international waters”. According to the referral, this vessel was within the territorial jurisdiction of the Comoros, while two of the other vessels allegedly subjected to attacks were within the territorial jurisdiction of Greece and Cambodia, respectively.
The referral also makes reference to Article 12(2)(a) of the Rome Statute, which allows the ICC to exercise its jurisdiction over crimes committed on board a vessel, if the State of registration of that vessel is a State Party to the ICC. Comoros, Greece and Cambodia are all States Parties to the Rome Statute.
The ICC is a permanent international court whose primary purpose is to help to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, thus contributing to the prevention of such crimes.
Decision Assigning the Situation on Registered Vessels of the
Union of the Comoros, the Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia to
Pre-Trial Chamber I
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