ICC Turns Attention to Mali | Institute for War and Peace Reporting
By IWPR Contributor
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, ICC, has turned his attention to Mali, where he will look into a spate of recent atrocities, using special powers that allow him to launch an investigation on his own initiative.
Analysts have largely welcomed Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s move to investigate the situation in Mali, and believe it could help deter further crimes in the country. But the prosecutor’s power to initiate an investigation without a referral from the United Nations Security Council or from an ICC member state known as “proprio motu”, Latin for “on his own impulse”, is under scrutiny since his first full-scale probe, in Kenya, has met with resistance and limited cooperation from that country’s government.
In a statement released on April 24, the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, OTP, announced that it was looking into the possibility that war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide had been taking place in Mali.
The prosecutor’s concerns stem from the violence that swept the country at the beginning of the year, as a Tuareg rebels launched an uprising in the north, leading to clashes also involving Arab and Islamist militias. A military coup in March left Mali in chaos, with the north of the country outside effective government control.
If the ICC’s prosecutor is to move to a full investigation in Mali, there may be valuable lessons to be learnt from the OTP’s experience in Kenya.
In that case, the prosecutor chose to invoke his proprio motu powers rather than wait for a referral from the Kenyan state following the violence that erupted after a disputed presidential election in late 2007.
He has only succeeded in getting the charges against four of the original six indictees upheld. As soon as the six suspects charged, a debate began within the country over whether Kenya should leave the ICC. It ultimately chose to remain a signatory to the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, but its stance has soured the government’s relationship with the court.
FULL ARTICLE (IWPR)
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