Statement by the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, on the referral of the situation since 1 August 2012 in the Central African Republic
Under articles 13(a) and 14 of the Rome Statute, the Central African authorities have decided to make a referral to my Office and have asked me to open an investigation into crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC which have allegedly been committed on CAR territory since 1 August 2012. Under the terms of the letter of referral, signed by the Transitional President, Mrs. Catherine Samba-Panza, and forwarded by the Minister of Justice of the Central African Republic, Mrs. Isabelle Gaudeuille, since this date, some of the most serious crimes have been committed in Bangui and the rest of the country, and have resulted in thousands of victims. According to the Transitional authorities, the Central African courts are not in a position to carry out the necessary investigations and proceedings efficiently, and consequently, the International Criminal Court’s intervention now appears essential.
Since 7 February 2014, the situation in the Central African Republic has been subject to a preliminary examination in order to ascertain whether the criteria of the Rome Statute for opening an investigation have been met. This examination will continue and will be stepped up so that I can make a decision shortly. The referral of this situation by the Central African authorities will enable the process to be sped up, where appropriate.
This is the fifth referral to be received from a State Party since the Rome Statute came into force on 1 July 2002; all five have come from the African continent. Previously, the authorities of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic (prior referral), Mali, and, within a different legal framework, Côte d’Ivoire had also requested the ICC’s intervention. I am very pleased, on behalf of millions of victims of crimes committed in these situations, that the leaders of these States have turned to the International Criminal Court to help them put an end to the impunity of criminals, and to prevent further violence. The Central African authorities’ commitment to fight impunity and to bring justice to the victims of these crimes sends out a strong signal that justice must prevail and must serve as a model for all.
Murder, rape, acts of pillaging, forced displacements, and other mass crimes committed in the Central African Republic since 2012 must immediately stop. Everyone should know that these acts have been duly documented by my Office, and will not go unpunished.
The Central African Republic (CAR) deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute on 3 October 2001. The International Criminal Court therefore has jurisdiction to try the crimes designated by the Statute committed on Central African territory, or by Central African nationals, from 1 July 2002. On 7 February 2014, the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced the opening of a preliminary examination of crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic since September 2012 in connection with a situation separate from the one referred by the Central African authorities in December 2004. Three other African States – Uganda, in December 2003; the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in April 2004; and Mali, in July 2012 – have also referred to the Court situations regarding events that took place on their territory, and these are since being investigated and are subject to proceedings. In December 2010 and May 2011, the Presidency of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire confirmed acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction, and invited the Prosecutor to open an investigation into the alleged crimes committed in that country.