To follow up on our previous post, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its December 2, 2014 press release published its annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities conducted between Nov. 1, 2013 and Oct. 31, 2014. “Preliminary Examination” is a process by which the ICC determines whether a situation referred to it meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute to warrant investigation by the Prosecutor.
As the annual report explains in its introduction,
preliminary examination of a situation by the Office may be initiated on the bases of: a) information sent by individuals or groups, States, [IGOs], or [NGOs]; b) a referral from a State Party or the Security Council; or c) a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court lodges pursuant to article 12(3) by a State which is not a Party to the Statute.
Article 53(1)(a)-(c) establishes that the Office shall consider jurisdiction, admissibility and the interest of justice when determining whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation. The preliminary examination is an independent analysis of facts and information available. The ‘reasonable basis’ standard has been defined by Pre-Trial Chamber II to require that “there exists a sensible or reasonable justification for a belief that a crime falling within the jurisdiction of the Court has been or is being committed.”
During this past year, the ICC conducted preliminary examination in eleven situations: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria, Republic of North Korea, Registered Vessels of Comoros, Greece and Colombia, and Ukraine. In three situations the preliminary examination has been concluded. The Court found reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the Situation in the Central African Republic II and announced the opening of new investigation. Two situations (Republic of North Korea and Registered Vessels of Comoros, Greece, and Cambodia) were closed because the Prosecutor did not find reasonable basis to proceed with investigation.
There are eight situations remaining in the preliminary examination stages. Five (Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, and Nigeria) situations are in the third phase of examination when the Office considers admissibility by looking at the complementarity and gravity principle articulated in article 17. Three (Honduras, Iraq, and Ukraine) situations are in the second phase when the Office considers jurisdiction (temporal, either territorial or personal, and material).
With respect to the situation in Ukraine, the annual report outlines the Office’s activities since the situation was referred to the Court via article 12(3) declaration and it states that it focused on “gathering available information from reliable sources in order to assess whether the alleged crimes fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court.” The Office requested information from the Government of Ukraine, from representatives of Ukrainian civil society, delegation of members of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee on the Rule of Law and Justice, and the Office also conducted a mission in Kiev. The Office concludes that it will continue to
gather, verify, and analyse” information to determine whether “there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed during the Maidan event in Ukraine.