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International Criminal Court Assembly of State Parties Kicks Off In The Hague

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The 21st Session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court opened Monday in The Hague, The Netherlands, and will run through Saturday, December 10. 

The International Criminal Court (ICC),  through the commitment of signatory countries around the world, was established by an international treaty called the Rome Statute. It was signed at a conference in Rome in 1998 and in 2022, 123 states are active state parties. 

The ICC prosecutes serious international crimes, formalized under the Statute: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The Assembly of State Parties oversees and manages the ICC. 

“At this moment, almost 25 years on since Rome, we need the law and the International Criminal Court more than ever,” ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC said during the session’s opening addresses.

 “The Assembly of States Parties is an opportunity for us to convert the words of justice,” Khan KC said, “and the important words of support for the Court we have heard this year, into concrete action that can be felt by those who look to this Court for the vindication of their basic rights.” 

Updates on the International Criminal Court’s Activities

As part of the session, the ICC presented an activity report on the situations and investigations before the court over the last year. These include international “situations” in countries where international crimes are being investigated and where cases may be brought or are ongoing. 

The ICC reported 17 state situations and 23 cases involving 27 suspects or accused parties active through the last year, and 262 hearings conducted with 104 victim testimonies including 65 victims who appeared and testified before the court in The Hague.  

Those included in part cases against David Georgiyevich Sanakoev, Gamlet Guchamazov and Mikhail Mayramovich Mindzaev who were arrested on June 24, 2022 on ‘reasonable grounds’ that they bear responsibility for war crimes committed in the country of Georgia. 

Sanakoev was charged with hostage taking and unlawful transfer for crimes occurring in and around South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008 during the Russo-Georgian War. Sanakoev was at the time serving as Ombudsman of the Russian-installed South Ossetian administration, and is alleged to have coordinated the kidnapping of around 170 villagers perceived to be “ethnic Georgians.” 

The court ended proceedings in a number of cases due to the deaths of the defendants, including Mahmoud Mustafa Busayf Al-Werfalli and Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, both alleged to be former commanders of the Al-Saiqa Brigade in Benghazi, Libya, and charged with the commission of murder as a war crime, and Paul Gicheru, a lawyer accused of influencing witnesses in cases related to international criminal investigations in Kenya. 

The Trust Fund For Victims 

The Trust Fund for Victims is an arm of the International Criminal Court that supports victims of crimes within the court’s jurisdiction through reparations and other assistance and each year provides its own report

In the last year, between July 2021 and the end of June 2022, the fund worked on five cases that are in the “reparations phase,” valued at over €5 million (EUR) or nearly $5.26 million (USD). 

These cases fall from the judgements and orders of victim reparations in cases against Thomas Lubanga Dylio, found guilty of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers, Germain Katanga, found guilty of crimes during a 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro in the DRC, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, found guilty of directing attacks against religious and historical buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, Dominic Ongwen, found guilty of 61 counts of crimes gainst humanity and war crimes in Uganda,and Bosco Ntaganda, found guilty of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity, whose victims are eligible for reparations in relation to forced service as child soldiers, and experience of rape and sexual slavery.

The fund called for additional voluntary contributions from member states to support victim services and reparations. 

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