18 July 2016
Brussels, 18 July 2016 – Following on from International Justice Day, ASF recognises the courage of the men and women who fight against the impunity of those behind international crimes. As well as a brief statement about the actions of the International Criminal Court, the NGO has taken a look at the sometimes overlooked consequences of international crimes.
Each year, 17 July marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court (the Court). This is the first permanent international jurisdiction responsible for judging crimes deemed to be among the most serious: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The current challenges facing the Court are mainly the increase in the number of cases falling under its jurisdiction without a sufficient increase in its resources, the need to reform its structures so as to ensure the more effective and tangible participation of victims, and growing criticism from African States which see themselves as being particularly targeted.
In this regard, the latest Assembly of States Parties in November 2015 was marked by certain States intervening in the legal work and independence of the Court. Some of them called into question the Court’s authority to compel the cooperation of States in the arrest of suspects or to carry out enquiries into current Heads of State. The coming months will be something of a test: will the Court regain the trust of States?
Apart from the statement of the Court, the symbolic date of 17 July also brings to mind a consequence which is often overlooked in international justice: the migration of millions of people fleeing conflict zones. These migratory movements lead to a significant risk of destabilisation and an increase in tension and conflicts in their regions of origin, as well as in neighbouring countries.
Even in areas in which conflicts are no longer considered to be ongoing, people are sometimes forced to leave their country because the perpetrators of serious crimes are not held to account. This has been the case in the Central African Republic (CAR), where action against an environment of impunity – the reason behind cycles of violence – is crucial in order to encourage stability and an economic upturn in the country. To this end, ASF points out how urgent the effective operationalisation of the Special Criminal Court is becoming.
Aside from the CAR, ASF has seen evidence of inextricable links between the judicial process and migratory movements through its projects in various countries (DR Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Tunisia), including the risk of destabilisation associated with the return of migrants to their country after a period of conflict.
In view of the challenges connecting international justice and migration, ASF is calling on governments and the relevant parties in civil society to think beyond the work of the International Criminal Court. It would be of particular interest to pursue considerations over the specific vulnerability of migrants and the role they can play in the reconstruction and reconciliation of societies torn apart by war and mass crimes.