The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is one of the four organs of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is responsible for conducting investigations and prosecutions. The Prosecutor, with the assistance of two Deputy Prosecutors, heads the OTP. The OTP acts independently and its members do not seek or act on instructions from any external source.
The OTP has three Divisions headed by the:
- Deputy Prosecutor in charge of Prosecutions Divisions,
- Director of the Jurisdiction Complementarity and Cooperation Division and
- Acting Head of Investigations Division
Circumstances under which the prosecutor can open an investigation are three-fold:
- when a situation is referred by a state party;
- when a situation is referred by the United Nations Security Council while addressing a threat to international peace and security; or
- when the Pre-Trial Chamber authorizes the prosecutor to open an investigation on the basis of information received from other sources, such as individuals or non-governmental organizations.
The prosecutor can be removed from office if the prosecutor is found to have committed serious misconduct or a serious breach of his/her duties or is unable to exercise his/her functions. An absolute majority of the state parties is required to remove the prosecutor.
The OTP is widely criticized for the fact that there are not sufficient checks and balances on the prosecutor’s powers. The prosecutor seems to enjoy unbridled power.