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Georgia: OTP-ICC press release; Related news coverage
30 June 2010
Please find below the latest press release issued by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) relating to its recent mission to Georgia, (I) as well as related news articles and opinions (II).
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
I. OTP-ICC PRESS RELEASE
i. “No impunity for crimes committed in Georgia: OTP concludes second visit to Georgia in context of preliminary examination,” OTP-ICC press release, 25 June 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/E04BFB24-4AA8-4101-B944-20C82AFEF665.htm
“A delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court conducted a three-day visit, 22-24 June, to Georgia a State Party to the Rome Statute that created the Court. The main purpose of the visit was to gather additional information from the Georgian authorities on the on-going national investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the context of the August 2008 armed conflict in South Ossetia, Georgia. The Court potentially has jurisdiction over ICC crimes allegedly committed on the territory of Georgia, including forced displacement of civilians, killing of peacekeepers and attacks against civilian targets.
‘The Rome Statute ensures the end of impunity’ said ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo from The Hague. ‘States have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute; the Court only steps in if there are no genuine national proceedings.’
During the visit, the delegation received an update on national investigations being carried out by the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia and his team, and met with the State Minister for Reintegration, the Chief of the Supreme Court, and other senior officials from the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Defence. The delegation also met with Georgian NGOs.
‘We appreciate the co-operation of the Georgian authorities,’ said the Prosecutor. ‘It is mandatory that those most responsible for serious crimes be investigated.’
The OTP made the preliminary examination public on August 2008. Georgia has been a State Party to the Rome Statute since 5 September, 2003. Both the Russian and Georgian authorities provided substantial information on their respective national investigations. The Office conducted a previous visit to Georgia in November 2008, and to Russia in March 2010.
A preliminary examination is the first phase of the Office of the Prosecutor activities, in order to assess if an investigation should be opened. The Office first assesses whether crimes falling under the ICC jurisdiction may have been, or are possibly being committed in a given situation; whether genuine investigations and prosecutions are being carried out by the competent authorities in relation to these crimes; and, as a third step, whether the possible opening of an investigation by the Prosecutor would not go against the interests of justice. During this phase, and in accordance with article 15, the Office proactively evaluates all information on alleged crimes from multiple sources, including “communications” from individuals and parties concerned. The triggering of a preliminary examination does not imply that an investigation will be opened.
The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if national authorities with jurisdiction are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely.
The Office of the Prosecutor is currently investigating in five situations: The Democratic Republic of Congo, northern Uganda, the Darfur region of Sudan, the Central African Republic and Kenya.”
II. RELATED NEWS AND OPINIONS
i. “No impunity for crimes committed during conflict in Georgia, ICC Prosecutor says”, UN News, 25 June 2010, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=35141&Cr=&Cr1=
“Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) stressed today that there must be no impunity for any serious crimes committed during the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia, Georgia, after they wrapped up an official visit to the Caucasus country.
A delegation from the prosecutor’s office spent three days in Georgia this week as part of their preliminary examination to determine whether a formal investigation should be opened into the conflict, which pitted Georgian forces against South Ossetian and Russian forces.
The fighting in August 2008 killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians and displaced an estimated 160,000 people from their homes....”
ii. “Representatives of ICC Prosecutor’s Office Visit Georgia”, Civil Georgia, 23 June 2010, http://www.civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=22441
“... Team from ICC Prosecutor’s Office met on June 23 with senior officials from the Georgian Justice Ministry. A senior official from the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office said after the meeting that the representatives from ICC were briefed about cases of violation of international humanitarian law by the Russian forces.
‘Foreign experts were provided with comprehensive information about ethnic cleansing carried out on the territory occupied by the Russian Federation, about expulsion of Georgian population and purposeful destruction of Georgian villages. We briefed our colleagues about those crimes, which are still taking place on the territory occupied by Russia,’ Zaza Kachibaia, an official from the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office investigative unit, said. ...”
iii. “Lithuania calls Russia an aggressor”, Baltic News, 3 June 2010, http://baltic-review.com/2010/06/03/lithuania-calls-russia-an-aggressor/
“On Tuesday, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution on Georgia. For the first time an official document by a European state described the August 2008 war in South Ossetia as an act of aggression by Russia and the former autonomies of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as occupied Georgian territories. Recognition of their sovereignty was called a wrongful act....”
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts.
Communications to the ICC can be sent to:
P.O. box 19519
2500 CM the Hague