The International Criminal Court (ICC) seeks justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is an independent organ of the Court, responsible for carrying out investigations and prosecutions against the individuals who are allegedly most responsible for those crimes.
The OTP receives referrals by foreign governments or by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It may also commence investigations on its own initiative and with the judges’ authorisation (proprio motu investigations).
Cases presently under investigation by the ICC
The ICC has a number of situations currently under investigation:
|Country / Region||Referred to ICC by||ICC investigations opened||Current focus|
|Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)||DRC Government||June 2004||Alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of armed conflict in the DRC|
|Uganda||Uganda Government||July 2004||Alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of a conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the national authorities in Uganda|
|Sudan||United Nations Security Council||June 2005||Alleged genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur, Sudan|
|Central African Republic (CAR)||CAR Government||May 2007||Alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of a conflict in CAR beginning in 2002. A new investigation was opened in 2014, in the context of renewed violence starting in 2012.|
|Libya||United Nations Security Council||March 2011||Alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the context of the situation in Libya|
|Mali||Government of Mali||January 2013||Alleged war crimes committed in Mali|
Proprio motu investigations commenced on the Prosecutor’s initiative that are currently in progress relate to crimes against humanity in Kenya, crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed in the context of post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Georgia.
How does the ICC go about investigations?
The process consists of 4 key stages:
The OTP conducts a preliminary examination to decide whether there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation. This requires assessing a number of legal criteria, including whether the crimes were committed after 1 July 2002 (the date of the entry into force of the Rome Statute).
The OTP conducts investigations by gathering and examining evidence, questioning suspects, victims and witnesses. OTP must investigate incriminating and exonerating circumstances equally.
Applying for an Arrest Warrant or Summons to Appear
Based on the evidence it gathers during an investigation, the OTP can submit a request to the ICC judges, asking them to issue arrest warrants or summonses to appear.
In the pre-trial phase, it will be determined whether there is sufficient evidence to commit the case to trial.
If the case goes to trial, the OTP is first to present its case, disclosing both incriminating and exonerating information.
The accused, with the assistance of legal counsel, will then present their defence.