Information for victims
On 21 September 2004, Burundi deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ("Rome Statute" and "Court" or "ICC"). By doing so, Burundi accepted the jurisdiction of the Court over crimes committed within the territory of Burundi or by its nationals since 1 December 2004 when the Rome Statute entered into force for the country.
Burundi withdrew from the Rome Statute, and the withdrawal took effect on 27 October 2017. The ICC may therefore exercise its jurisdiction over crimes listed in the Rome Statute committed on the territory of Burundi or by its nationals from 1 December 2004 to 26 October 2017.
On 25 October 2017, ICC judges authorised the Office of the Prosecutor ("OTP" or "Office") of the ICC to open an investigation regarding crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court allegedly committed in Burundi or by nationals of Burundi outside Burundi since 26 April 2015 until 26 October 2017. The Prosecutor is authorised to extend her investigation to crimes which were committed before 26 April 2015 or continue after 26 October 2017 if certain legal requirements are met.
For information on the decision to open an investigation please click here.
What is the scope of the investigation that the Prosecutor was authorised to open?
In its decision authorising an investigation, the Chamber found a reasonable basis to believe that State agents and groups implementing State policies, together with members of the "Imbonerakure" launched a widespread or systematic attack against the Burundian civilian population.
The attack targeted those who opposed or were perceived to oppose the ruling party after the announcement, in April 2015, that President Pierre Nkurunziza was going to run for a third term in office.
The following crimes against humanity were allegedly committed both in and outside of Burundi by Burundian nationals, between 26 April 2015 and 26 October 2017:
- murder and attempted murder
- imprisonment or severe deprivation of liberty
- enforced disappearance
If evidence suggests other continuous or related crimes in the Court's jurisdiction occurred, the ICC Prosecutor's investigation can expand to include those crimes.
During the investigation, the OTP gathers and examines evidence to identify individuals who are allegedly most responsible for those crimes. It collects the necessary evidence of a suspect's innocence or guilt from a variety of reliable sources, independently, impartially, and objectively.
The investigation may take as long as needed for the OTP to gather the required evidence.
If sufficient evidence is collected to establish that specific individuals bear criminal responsibility, the Prosecutor would then request the Judges to issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest.
Victims' and Affected Communities' Communication with the Court
Any individual, group or State can send information to the Office of the Prosecutor regarding any alleged crimes falling under the jurisdiction of the Court. Persons with such information, including victims and affected communities of the situation, can communicate to the Office of the Prosecutor any relevant information for the purposes of the investigation or an eventual prosecution through the OTPLink at any time.
If potential victims have any questions related to their rights before the ICC, they can contact the Victims Participation and Reparations Section ("VPRS") - the section within the ICC Registry responsible for assisting victims in the process of applying for participation in judicial proceedings, and reparations in case of a conviction, at [email protected].
Please note that the security of victims is crucial. It is important to take preventive measures such as avoiding mentioning their involvement with the ICC to others/publicly. It is also important to avoid anything that could expose victims and put them or other people at risk, e.g. talking to the media, posting on social media, etc. about their contacts with the ICC.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE ICC
The ICC is the first permanent international criminal court which envisages an active role for victims, once judicially recognized as such after the opening of an investigation by the Prosecutor, in terms of their rights to participate in judicial proceedings and to receive reparations, as appropriate, in case of a conviction.
The Court's Structure
The Court is composed of four organs: (i) the Presidency; (ii) Chambers (Appeals Division, Trial Division, Pre-Trial Division); (iii) the Office of the Prosecutor; and (iv) the Registry. The Office of the Prosecutor acts independently as a separate organ. The Registry is composed of many sections, including the Victims Participation and Reparation Section, the Office of Public Counsel for victims and the Victims and Witnesses Unit.
The Court's Jurisdiction
The general mission of the ICC is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. The Court is participating in a global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, the ICC aims to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and to help prevent these crimes from happening again.
The ICC does not prosecute States, Governments or political parties. It can only investigate and prosecute natural persons of 18 years of age or above. Its mandate is to investigate and, where warranted, prosecute individuals for their alleged individual criminal responsibility for mass crimes which fall under the ICC jurisdiction.
The Principle of Complementarity
The principle of complementarity is one of the main pillars for the Court's operation. If a State which has jurisdiction over the situation/case investigates, prosecutes and tries the same person for substantially the same conduct, then the ICC shall defer to the domestic judicial authorities, provided that the State is not unwilling and/or unable to genuinely carry out the proceedings.
The Court does not have police or executive forces who implement the Court's decisions and orders (such as a warrant of arrest). The ICC is dependent on the States Parties to cooperate fully with the Court. The Court may also invite any State not party to the Rome Statute to provide assistance to the Court.
For further general information on the structure and functioning of the Court, as well as on the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC please click here.