THE HAGUE, Jul 1 – The International Criminal Court, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Sunday is the world’s only permanent criminal tribunal set up to try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The ICC was created through the adoption of its founding Rome Statute at a diplomatic conference in Italy in July 1998. The statute came into force on July 1, 2002 and the court began work in The Hague in 2003.
To date, 121 countries have signed up, including 33 from Africa — the biggest regional group.
The court’s president is South Korean Sang-Hyun Song, and its chief prosecutor is Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda.
A country that has signed up to the treaty may refer cases to the prosecutor for investigation, as in the case of warlord Thomas Lubanga, referred by the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2004.
Cases may also be referred by the United Nations Security Council, as with the late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi last year, or the prosecutor can initiate his own investigations with permission from the judges, as with Kenya’s 2007-08 post-electoral violence.
In a decade, the court has only seen one case — that of Lubanga — through to conviction. He is due to be sentenced.
Besides DR Congo, the prosecutor has also opened investigations in six other countries, all African: the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Libya, Sudan and Uganda.
The court has issued arrest warrants against 20 individuals, notably Kadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
Apart from Lubanga, four others including former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo are in ICC custody, with 11 other suspects still at large.
The ICC employs almost 700 people from around 90 countries and its
2012 budget totals 111 million euros ($138 million).