ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on the Malian State referral of the situation in Mali since January 2012
Today I received a delegation from the Government of Mali led by the Minister of Justice, H.E. Malick Coulibaly. The delegation transmitted a letter by which the Government of Mali, as a State Party to the ICC, refers “the situation in Mali since January 2012” to my Office and requests an investigation to determine whether one or more persons should be charged for crimes committed. The Government of Mali submits that the Malian courts are unable to prosecute or try the perpetrators. The Malian delegation also provided documentation in support of the referral.
The referral by the Government of Mali, which is the fourth referral by an African State Party, follows the 30 May 2012 decision by the Malian Cabinet to refer the situation to the ICC. It is in line with the 7 July 2012 request to the ICC by the ECOWAS Contact Group of Mali (composed of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Togo) to “launch the necessary enquiries in order to identify the perpetrators of these war crimes and to initiate the necessary legal proceedings against them.”.
My Office has been following the situation in Mali very closely since violence erupted there around 17 January 2012. On 24 April, as instances of killings, abductions, rapes and conscription of children were reported by several sources, I reminded all actors of ICC jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Mali or by Malian nationals. On 1 July, I stressed that the deliberate destruction of the shrines of Muslim saints in the city of Timbuktu may constitute a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute.
I have instructed my Office to immediately proceed with a preliminary examination of the situation in order to assess whether the Rome Statute criteria stipulated under Article 53.1 for opening an investigation are fulfilled. I will make a public decision in due course.