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Communications, Referrals and Preliminary Examinations
States Parties to the Rome Statute agreed they had a duty to put an end to the impunity of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole in order to prevent future crimes. They committed to prosecute such crimes domestically and accepted the intervention of an independent and permanent International Criminal Court on their territory should they fail to act. Within this framework, it is the Office of the Prosecutor which is responsible for determining whether a situation meets the legal criteria established by the Statute to warrant investigation by the ICC. For this purpose, the Office conducts a preliminary examination of all situations brought to its attention based on statutory criteria and the information available.
The preliminary examination of a situation may be initiated by: (a) a decision of the Prosecutor, taking into consideration any information on crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court, including information sent by individuals or groups, States, intergovernmental or non‐ governmental organisations; (b) a referral from a State Party or the Security Council; or (c) a declaration pursuant to article 12(3) by a State which is not a Party to the Statute.
Once a situation is thus identified, article 53(1)(a)‐(c) of the Statute establishes the legal framework for a preliminary examination. It provides that, in order to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation the Prosecutor shall consider: jurisdiction (temporal, material, and either territorial or personal jurisdiction); admissibility (complementarity and gravity); and the interests of justice.
As required by the Statute, the Office’s preliminary examination activities will be conducted in the same manner irrespective of whether the Office receives a referral from a State Party or the Security Council or acts on the basis of information of crimes obtained pursuant to article 15. In all circumstances, the Office will analyse the seriousness of the information received and may seek additional information from States, organs of the United Nations, intergovernmental and non‐governmental organizations and other reliable sources that are deemed appropriate. The Office may also receive oral testimony at the seat of the Court.
In order to promote transparency of the preliminary examination process the Office aims to issue regular reports on its activities and provides reasoned responses for its decisions to either proceed or not proceed with investigations.
As of end September 2010, the Office had considered information on crimes from numerous sources including open sources and “communications” (8,874 such “communications” were received pursuant to article 15 of the Statute, of which 4,002 were manifestly outside of the jurisdiction of the Court); three State Party referrals; one Security Council referral; and two declarations accepting the jurisdiction of the Court, lodged by Cote d’Ivoire and the Palestinian National Authority.
The Office has made public its preliminary examination of 13 situations, including those that have led to the opening of investigations (Uganda, DRC, CAR, Darfur, Kenya), those dismissed (including Venezuela and Iraq), and those that remain under preliminary examination (Colombia, Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire, Georgia, Palestine, Guinea, Honduras, Korea and Nigeria).
For more information on preliminary examinations process see Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations.
Content of information sent to the Office
The Statute does not specify what the communication should contain. The Office analyses all communications received and the extent of the analysis is affected by the detail and substantive nature of the information available. If the available information does not provide sufficient guidance for an analysis that could lead to a determination that there is a reasonable basis to proceed, the analysis is concluded and the sender informed. This decision is provisional and may be revised in the event that new information is forthcoming.
Senders are advised to submit information in English or French, the working languages of the Court. Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish are also official languages of the Court. Where information is submitted in a language other than these, the Office will endeavour to obtain informal translations where possible
To submit information about alleged crimes, please send it to:
International Criminal Court
Office of the Prosecutor
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM The Hague
Or send it by email to: email@example.com,
or send it by facsimile to: +31 70 515 8555