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The Prosecution of International Crimes

A Practical Guide to Prosecuting ICC Crimes in Commonwealth States

image of The Prosecution of International Crimes
With the coming into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 1 July 2002, a new era of international criminal justice has begun. For the first time, a permanent international court has been established with jurisdiction to try individuals for the most serious crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.



But the impact of the ICC goes well beyond the international stage. The Court is intended to complement national jurisdictions and will only take on cases when States with jurisdiction over the relevant crime(s) are either unwilling or unable to conduct the prosecution. Thus the vast majority of cases will be investigated and prosecuted by domestic authorities in domestic courts. This has significant ramifications for the police, to investigate, prosecute, defend or adjudicate on such matters as well as render various types of assistance to the ICC.



This Guide is intended to assist domestic authorities within Commonwealth countries in meeting this challenge by providing practical information about the Court, the relevant principles of international law and the new laws adopted in each State. Part I takes the reader through the structure of the ICC, issues relating to jurisdiction, an outline of the crimes, a description of the co-operation regime and general principles of international humanitarian law. Part II looks at national legislation that has been adopted to date.



It is hoped that this publication will serve as an important guide for legal professionals and all those working in the criminal justice system and enable them to become familiar with the practical realities involved in ending impunity for those who have committed the gravest of international crimes.

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Jurisdiction and Complementarity

For many of us familiar with domestic criminal justice systems in common law countries, the term ‘jurisdiction’ has a limited meaning. It is a term rarely used in day-to-day practice. Unless you work or practice in a country organised along federal lines, or have experience of international criminal law, the meaning of jurisdiction is usually confined to a discussion of the authority of a court or tribunal to adjudicate over a particular offender or offence. In international criminal law, however, the term often has multiple and inter-linked meanings, which this chapter sets out to disentangle and explain.

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