preliminary examination

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Families of disappeared persons, murder victims and victims of human rights abuses during a visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Coahuila Mexico in September 2015 (Photo: Flickr/Ginnette Riquelme/CIDH)
26 September 2017 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Every few weeks it seems one NGO or another is lobbying to get its issue onto the agenda of the ICC’s prosecutor. It’s a tribute to the way that the International Criminal Court has come to be seen as an avenue for justice. But it also means that there’s a lot of noise, without necessarily much action. 

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ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
20 October 2016 by Benjamin Duerr

After the president of Burundi signed a law to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday, the central African country is likely to become the first state to withdraw from the court's founding treaty. Now, experts say, both Burundi and the ICC, will get caught up in making largely symbolic moves in a race against time.

When Pierre Nkurunziza signed law no 1/14 of 18 October 2016, he became the world's first president to lead his country out of the ICC. With his signature under the “law concerning the withdrawal of the Republic of Burundi from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court” the president approved previous decisions by the senate and the national assembly. This is the first time a country has decided to leave the court which opened its doors in 2002. Burundi has been in turmoil and on the radar of the international community since early 2015. Both the ICC and the United Nations are looking into the violence there which has left hundreds of people dead.[IJT- 194]

 
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Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza talks to the press following a meeting with a UN Security Council delegation that came to reiterate the need for an inclusive dialogue to end months of political turmoil. (Photo: Flickr/ MONUSCO)
07 June 2016 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

At the end of April, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a preliminary examination in Burundi. As the situation has been deteriorating for the past year with experts fearing the outbreak of a full-fledged civil war, Burundi could become a real-life test for the ICC's ability to deter atrocities. Some argue there is evidence the move of the prosecutor has already had an impact on the conflict.