The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt) is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Although, the ICC is seated in The Hague, Netherlands, its proceedings may take place anywhere. The ICC came into existence by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on July 1, 2002. Therefore, it has jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed only on or after 1 July 2002.
Generally, the ICC’s jurisdiction extends only to cases where:
- the accused is a national of a member state,
- the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party, or
- a situation is referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council.
The jurisdiction of ICC complements the judicial systems of member states and initial responsibility to investigate is left to individual states. Therefore, it can exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes. The ICC’s jurisdiction is not universal and is limited to the following circumstances:
- where the person accused of committing a crime is a national of a state party (or where the person’s state has accepted the jurisdiction of the court)
- where the alleged crime was committed on the territory of a state party (or where the state on whose territory the crime was committed has accepted the jurisdiction of the court); or
- where a situation is referred to the court by the UN Security Council.
Article 17 of the Roma Statute provides that a case is inadmissible if:
- it is being or has been investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it;
- the person concerned has already been tried for conduct which is the subject of the complaint, and a trial by the Court is not permitted under article 20, paragraph 3;
- The case is not of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court
According to Article 20, paragraph 3, ICC can try a person already been tried by another court for the same offense if the proceedings in the other court were for the purpose of shielding the person concerned from criminal responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court, or not conducted independently or impartially in accordance with law.