Preliminary examinations

The Office of the Prosecutor ("Office" or "OTP") of the International Criminal Court ("Court") is responsible for determining whether a situation meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute ("Statute") to warrant investigation by the Office.

For this purpose, the OTP conducts a preliminary examination of all communications and situations that come to its attention based on the statutory criteria and the information available.

The preliminary examination of a situation by the Office may be initiated on the basis of: a) information sent by individuals or groups, States, intergovernmental or non-governmental organisations; b) a referral from a State Party or the United Nations Security Council; or (c) a declaration lodged by a State accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court pursuant to article 12(3) of the Statute.

Once a situation is thus identified, the factors set out in article 53(1) (a)-(c) of the Statute establish the legal framework for a preliminary examination. This article provides that, in order to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation, the Prosecutor shall consider: jurisdiction (temporal, either territorial or personal, and material); admissibility (complementarity and gravity); and the interests of justice.

Preliminary examinations: Ongoing (3) | Closed - Decision not to proceed (7)

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Colombia

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

On 28 October 2021, based on thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, the Office concluded that there was not a reasonable basis to believe that potential cases arising from an investigation of the situation would be admissible. This was because, based on an assessment of the facts as they presently exist, the national authorities of Colombia could not be characterised as being inactive, nor unwilling or unable to genuinely investigate and prosecute relevant Rome Statute crimes. Accordingly, the Prosecutor decided to close the preliminary examination, subject to possible reconsideration upon a significant change of circumstances.

Guinea

  • Ongoing

Focus: Alleged crimes against humanity committed in the context of the 28 September 2009 events in Conakry, Guinea

Phase 3: Admissibility


Nigeria

  • Ongoing

On 11 December 2020, the Prosecutor announced the completion of her preliminary examination of the situation in Nigeria, having concluded that there was a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed.  The next step in the judicial process is to request authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation into the situation in Nigeria.  In the interim, the Office continues to take measures to preserve the integrity of any future investigation into the situation in Nigeria.

Honduras

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

​On 28 October 2015, based on thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, the Office concluded that there is no reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, and decided to close the preliminary examination.

Republic of Korea

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

​On 23 June 2014, the Prosecutor concluded that the statutory requirements to seek authorisation to initiate an investigation of the situation in the Republic of Korea had not been satisfied, based on a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available. In accordance with article 15(6) of the Rome Statute, this conclusion can be reconsidered in the light of new facts or evidence. Furthermore, the Prosecutor stresses that should any future acts be committed on the Korean peninsula that appear to fall under the Court's jurisdiction, the Prosecutor remains prepared to initiate a preliminary examination into such acts, and to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators as appropriate.

Registered Vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

On 29 November 2017, the Prosecutor notified PTC I of her "final decision", as required by rule 108(3). Having carried out a thorough review of all the submissions made and all the information available, including information newly made available in 2015-2017, the Prosecutor remained of the view that the information available did not provide a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation. The final decision filed with the Court provided extensive reasoning in support of this conclusion.

Iraq/UK

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

On 9 December 2020, the Prosecutor, closed the preliminary examination into Iraq/UK and decided not to request the opening an investigation, having concluded, following a thorough examination, that none of the potential cases arising from the situation would be admissible before the ICC at the present time.  This is without prejudice to a reconsideration based on new facts or evidence.  The Office's report explains the basis of its conclusion in greater detail.  

Gabon

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

On 21 September 2018, the Prosecutor concluded that the information available did not provide a reasonable basis to believe that the acts allegedly committed in Gabon in the context of the 2016 post-election violence, either by members of the opposition or by the Gabonese security forces, constitute crimes against humanity within the meaning of the Rome Statute of the ICC. Nor does the information available provide a reasonable basis to believe that the crime of incitement to genocide was committed during the election campaign, and decided to close the preliminary examination.


Venezuela II

  • Ongoing

Phase 2

​On 13 February 2020, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC received a referral  from the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela a referral under article 14 of the Rome Statute regarding the situation in its own territory, in accordance with its prerogatives as a State Party to the Rome Statute.

Plurinational State of Bolivia

  • Closed - Decision not to proceed

On 14 February 2022, based on a thorough legal and factual analysis of the information available, the Office concluded that there was not a reasonable basis to believe that crimes falling within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court had been committed within the scope of the referred situation in Plurinational State of Bolivia ("Bolivia"). Accordingly, the Prosecutor concluded that there was no reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation and decided to close the preliminary examination.