School of Politics and International Studies

Responsibility to Protect Student Journal

Caveat Visitator: Alternatives to Rome Statute Obligations for the Arrest of ICC Indictees

Ben Taylor, The University of Queensland, Australia

Ben Taylor is in the final year of his BA/LLB from the University of Queensland. He has previously interned at the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The recent visit of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to South Africa, and the ensuing international controversy at the prospect of his arrest there, has once again drawn attention to two trends in the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) relationship with states. Firstly, African state parties to the Rome Statute are increasingly frustrated with the ICC’s interventions in Africa, and the obligation they have to arrest a visiting indictee[1] such as al-Bashir, and are threatening to abandon their Rome Statute obligations as a result. The second is that unless the state in which an indictee resides is willing to arrest them, the Court is reliant on third states to arrest indictees if and when they visit, resulting in a situation of ‘caveat vistator’ – (accused) visitors beware.

This article will explore the obligations which states may have to arrest visiting ICC indictees which originate outside of the Rome Statute. In particular it will consider three sources of obligation: UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions, the obligation to punish genocide, and the obligation aut dedere aut judicare in a number of multilateral conventions. Ultimately it will attempt to answer what obligations may continue to force states to arrest and surrender an indictee like al-Bashir, even if the state in question has left the Rome Statute. However, it is important to note that the obligations to cooperate and arrest indictees discussed in this article have a complicated relationship with the personal immunities which may be held by indictees, such as head of state immunity in the case of al-Bashir, and that this relationship is contested, and outside the scope of this article.[2]

Al-Bashir, South Africa and the African Union

When al-Bashir arrived in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit in June, a South African civil rights group[3] was able to obtain a High Court interim order instructing the South African government to take all necessary steps to prevent him from leaving the country, while the court decided on whether the government must arrest him (SALC v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, order of 14 June 2015). The next day the High Court ordered the government to arrest Al Bashir, but it was revealed that he had nevertheless been allowed to leave the country (SALC v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development [2015]). The government was denied leave to appeal (Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development v SALC [2015]) and is now petitioning the Supreme Court, where the matter will be heard on 12 February 2016 (Southern African Litigation Centre, accessed 20 December 2015). Meanwhile, the ruling African National Congress party has resolved to support withdrawing South Africa from the Rome Statute (Reuters 11 October 2015).[4]

Rome Statute state parties are obliged to execute requests from the Court to arrest and surrender persons who are the subject of arrest warrants (Rome Statute 1998, art 89).[5] If they do not, the Court is able to make findings of non-cooperation and refer them to the Assembly of States Parties or to the UNSC where such a referral initiated the case (Rome Statute 1998, art 87(7); Regulations of the Court 2012, reg 109). In al-Bashir’s case, the Pre-Trial Chamber has made numerous referrals[6] without any meaningful sanction or reprimand from those bodies.

Instead, the AU has consistently attempted to stall the process. When in 2008 the Prosecutor first sought an arrest warrant against al-Bashir, the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC,[7] the AU responded by calling on the UNSC to defer the process (AU Peace and Security Council 2008, para 11(i); endorsed in AU Assembly 2009a, para 3). When the UNSC declined to do so (res. 1828, 2008, preamble), the AU went a step further, producing a Resolution reiterating its request and stating that AU Member States shall not cooperate with his arrest and surrender (AU Assembly 2009b, paras 9, 10).[8] Most recently, the AU has adopted a Kenyan proposal to ‘develop a roadmap’ for African nations to withdraw from the Court en masse (The Guardian 2 February 2016).

If African states do proceed to withdraw, the withdrawal process provided in the Statute does not discharge obligations which arose while they were parties, in particular ‘criminal investigations and proceedings in relation to which the State had a duty to cooperate’ which commenced before they withdrew (Rome Statute 1998, art 127(2). Nonetheless it is unclear whether the Court would be able to refer a state to the Assembly of State Parties or UNSC while no longer a party. And, more practically, governments may be unperturbed by the admonitions of an institution of which they are no longer a member.[9]

But what alternative obligations exist, and do they present the chance of meaningful enforcement, particularly at the International Court of Justice? In answering that question, this article will not be primarily concerned with the obligations of the state of nationality of the accused, or the state on whose territory alleged offences were committed, but with the situation of third states faced with the presence of an accused on their territory – whether staying permanently, such as Hissène Habré was in Senegal, or temporarily, as with al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa.

Security Council Obligations

The case against al-Bashir derives jurisdiction from UNSC Resolution 1593, which referred Sudan to the ICC in 2005, using the referral power in article 13(b) of the Rome Statute. Such UNSC Resolutions, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, have the power to create binding obligations for any UN member state, and as Charter obligations they prevail over any other treaty obligation (Charter of the United Nations art 103; Libya v United Kingdom, Order of 14 April 1992, para 42). This means that the obligations UNSC Resolutions do create would defeat any Resolutions of the AU designed to discourage cooperation with the ICC, as was articulated by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber when it admonished the Democratic Republic of the Congo for allowing al-Bashir to visit for a COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) meeting, relying on the immunity afforded to AU heads of state (Al Bashir, Decision of 9 April 2014). The Chamber held that the UNSC, by resolving that Sudan shall cooperate with the Court, had in effect forced Sudan to relinquish head of state immunity, and that because it was a UNSC Resolution, it prevailed over any obligations created by the AU (Al Bashir, Decision of 9 April 2014, paras 25-31). The conclusion with regard to head of state immunity, and the relationship between obligations to cooperate and personal immunities is contested, are outside the scope of this article.[10]

However, in each of the UNSC referrals thus far (Sudan and Libya), binding obligations to cooperate with the ICC have only been imposed on those states referred. Both Resolutions decide that Sudan and Libya shall cooperate fully with ICC and the Prosecutor, but only urge other states to cooperate (SC res. 1593 2005, para 2; res. 1970 2011, para 5), which the Pre-Trial Chamber has acknowledged does not oblige them (Al Bashir, Decision of 10 October 2013, para 10). By contrast, the UNSC Resolutions creating the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia imposed cooperation obligations on all states (SC res. 827 1994, para 4; res. 955 1994, para 2). The Pre-Trial Chamber recognised this option was open to the UNSC, observing that it

may, by means of a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, create an obligation to cooperate with the Court on those UN Member States which are not parties to the [Rome] Statute. In such a case, the obligation to cooperate stems directly from the UN Charter (Al Bashir, Decision of 10 October 2013, para 7).

It is worth noting that this potential is not limited to UNSC Resolutions which refer cases to the Court: the Council has previously instructed the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to cooperate with the ICC (res. 2211 2015, para 9(d)), it could similarly decide that relevant states shall also cooperate. Indeed, the Office of the Prosecutor has noted (rather optimistically) that the Council could ‘specify particular measures to enable the Prosecutor to avoid strict requirements for state co-operation and to act with more authority to investigate a situation’ (2003, para 93).

Consequently, while the UNSC undoubtedly has the power to impose general obligations of cooperation on all states with respect to ICC referrals (or with respect to other ICC cases), the actual Resolutions which so far have referred situations to the Court have not done so, instead creating obligations only for the referred states.

Punishing Genocide

The Genocide Convention creates an obligation to punish genocide, and to cooperate with an ‘international penal tribunal’ but it is limited in scope (1948, art 6).[11] The International Court of Justice explained that the obligation is first to try before a state’s own courts persons accused of genocide which was committed on their territory, and secondly to cooperate with an ‘international penal tribunal’ if the state has accepted its jurisdiction (Bosnia v Serbia [2007], paras 184, 442-443). Unlike the obligation to extradite or prosecute (discussed below), it does not oblige states to confer or exercise jurisdiction over crimes not committed on their territory, nor to extradite persons on their territory for crimes committed elsewhere (Bosnia v Serbia [2007], para 447).

The limitations of this provision were made clear in the Bosnia v Serbia case, where Serbia was not held responsible for failing to punish persons accused of having committed the Srebrenica genocide because it did not occur on Serbian territory ([2007], para 442), but was held responsible for having failed in its obligation to cooperate with the Tribunal (an ‘international penal tribunal’, of which the parties to the Dayton Agreement had accepted the jurisdiction) by failing to arrest persons in their territory accused of genocide and hand them over to the tribunal ([2007], paras 443-449, 471). In particular, it found that failing to transfer Ratko Mladić meant it had breached this obligation ([2007], paras 448-449, 471).

Enforcement potential

To enforce this obligation at the International Court of Justice (described in more detail below), the Court’s jurisdiction may be founded on a compromissory clause. The Genocide Convention contains such a clause, which simply provides that disputes shall be submitted to the Court at the request of a party, without requirement for arbitration or specified time periods (1948, art 9). Because it obliges states to surrender genocidaires on their territory to the ICC if they have accepted its jurisdiction, the Convention firstly provides an alternative way of enforcing against states which are Rome Statute members. But further, it might seem to preclude enforcement against non-members. However, the International Court of Justice has clearly interpreted acceptance of jurisdiction as including the notion of being obliged to accept the jurisdiction of the tribunal, via UNSC Resolution ‘or some other rule of international law’ (Bosnia v Serbia [2007], para 446).[12] This interpretation suggests two potential avenues by which a non-Rome Statute party may be regarded as having accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction. The first is through a UNSC Resolution obliging states to cooperate with the court, as discussed above. The relevance of the Genocide Convention obligation in addition to the UNSC obligation discussed above would be the potential to seek enforcement at the International Court of Justice.

The second avenue is through the withdrawal process in article 127(2) of the Rome Statute. As noted above, states which withdraw from the Statute retain obligations in respect of ongoing cases. This could mean that a state which leaves the Rome Statute continues to be regarded as having accepted the Court’s jurisdiction for the purpose of cases which had commenced before their leaving. In short, for the purpose of the Genocide Convention, a state which leaves the Rome Statute may still be obligated to surrender alleged genocidaires such as al-Bashir. However, this interpretation would need to be tested. [13]

Thus in al-Bashir’s case (presently the only genocide indictee at the ICC), Sudan is the only state with the primary obligation to punish, and other states are obliged to surrender him if they have accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC. For the African states considering withdrawal from the Rome Statute, it is possible that they will continue to be under an enforceable obligation to surrender him, if another Genocide convention party is willing to test the case at the International Court of Justice.

Aut Dedere Aut Judicare

The aut dedere aut judicare principle can be traced to Hugo Grotius: ‘[w]hen appealed to, a State should either punish the guilty person as he deserves, or it should entrust him to the discretion of the party making the appeal’ (trans. Kelsey 1925, pp. 527). Now known as aut dedere aut judicare,[14] the obligation to extradite or prosecute appears in different forms in many different treaties. Its potential gained prominence after Belgium successfully sought its enforcement against Senegal at the International Court of Justice over the former President of Chad, Hissène Habré (Belgium v Senegal [2012]). The other relevant recent development was the conclusion of the International Law Commission’s work on the principle during its 66th session in 2014. The first of these cemented the possibility of enforcement of the obligation at the ICJ, while the second cemented its relationship and relevance to the ICC, both discussed below.

The International Law Commission attempted a categorisation of different forms of the obligation,[15] and concluded that attempting to harmonise the disparate treaty sources would be futile (2014, para 12). There is thus presently no single customary principle of aut dedere aut judicare concerning international crimes. But the individual treaties which overlap with Rome Statute crimes nonetheless provide independent sources of the obligation.

The Relevant Conventional Obligations:

Four conventional sources of the obligation aut dedere aut judicare overlap with the ratione materiae jurisdiction of the ICC: article 7(1) of the Torture Convention (1984)[16] and article 8(1) of the Hostages Convention (1979)[17] each provide an obligation to prosecute or extradite; article 11(1) of the Enforced Disappearances Convention (2006)[18] provides an obligation to prosecute, extradite or surrender to an international criminal tribunal whose jurisdiction the state has recognised; and each of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocol I of 1977 oblige states to search for and prosecute grave breaches of those conventions or hand over the person in question to another High Contracting party which has established a prima facie case.[19]

Immediately apparent is that these obligations do not primarily concern cooperation with ICC arrest warrants: only the Convention against Enforced Disappearances obligation mentions a tribunal which the state has accepted the jurisdiction of (see the discussion above concerning this restriction in the Genocide Convention), while the Geneva Conventions specifically refer to handing over to ‘another High Contracting party.’ To complicate further, the Rome Statute itself distinguishes between the terminology of extradition to a state, and surrender to the Court (1998, art 102). Schabas explains that this is consistent with the ad hoc tribunals’ use of ‘surrender or transfer’, and that it is in response to “objections from States that have legislation, and sometimes even constitutional provisions, prohibiting the extradition of their own nationals.” (2011, p. 279) Similarly during the negotiation of the Geneva Conventions, the language of ‘handing over’ was preferred to ‘extradition’ in view of the variety of extradition laws and treaties in place, in contrast to the customary practice in connection with the United Nations War Crimes Commission (International Law Commission 2010, para 54).

Nevertheless, the International Law Commission takes the position that ‘the obligation to extradite or prosecute may be satisfied by surrendering the alleged offender to a competent international criminal tribunal’ (2014, para 34), describing this as a ‘third alternative’ (2014, para 27). The ‘third alternative’ notion draws support from the Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind (1996, art 9),[20] the Council of Europe position that the principle ‘may be interpreted lato sensu to include the duty of the state to transfer the person to the jurisdiction of an international organ, such as the [ICC]’ (2006, p. 119), and the view of Judge Xue, that surrender to an international tribunal would not be contrary to the obligation because ‘such a tribunal is created precisely to fulfil the object and purpose of the Convention’ (Belgium v Senegal [2012], Dissenting Opinion of Judge Xue, para 42).[21]

The key to this interpretation is the understanding that extradition or handing over are not the primary obligation, but options to relieve the primary obligation to prosecute. As the International Court of Justice explained, in the context of the Convention against Torture, ‘extradition is an option offered to the State by the Convention, whereas prosecution is an international obligation under the Convention, the violation of which is a wrongful act engaging the responsibility of the State’ (Belgium v Senegal [2012], para 95). Similarly surrender to an international court, unless inconsistent with the object and purpose of the relevant conventions (Belgium v Senegal [2012], Dissenting Opinion of Judge Xue, para 42), is an optional alternative to domestic prosecution.

The reason this option matters is that, by comparison to the Genocide Convention, the obligation to prosecute is irrespective of the nationality of the accused or the territory where the alleged crimes occurred. All that’s relevant is the accused person is present on the state party’s territory. If states want to avoid obligations to surrender to the ICC (or extradition to another state), they must prosecute.

Scope of the Offences

However, the scope of these offences, and the nature of their overlap with Rome Statute crimes, is not quite as simple as it first appears. Torture, enforced disappearance, hostage taking and grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions are not recognised as distinct crimes in the Rome Statute, but rather fall into the constitutive elements of the main offences: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide (leaving aside aggression). In some cases the convention definitions of the offences are more limited than the Rome Statute elements, particularly with regard to non-state perpetrators.

Torture may amount to a war crime (Rome Statute 1998, art 8(2)(a)(ii), art 8(2)(c)(i))[22] or crime against humanity (Rome Statute 1998, art 7(1)(f)),[23] and may be one of the constitutive acts of genocide, if coupled with the relevant special intent (Elements of the Crimes 2002, art 6(b) Element 1, fn 3). However, the convention definition of torture requires the relevant harm to be inflicted for the purpose of obtaining information, confession, or coercion and with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or person in an official capacity (Torture Convention 1984, art 1), whereas the Rome Statute definition only requires the infliction of the harm on a person under the accused’s custody or control (1998, art 81(2)(e)). The meaning of ‘public official’ has been interpreted by the Committee against Torture to include a quasi-government group exercising de facto government authority where there is no official government (Elmi v Australia [1998], para 6.5), but not where a functioning government is present (H.M.H.I. v Australia [2001], para 6.4).

Enforced disappearance may amount to a crime against humanity (Rome Statute 1998, art 7(1)(i)).[24] The convention defines enforced disappearance as perpetrated by agents of the state, or persons acting with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the state (Enforced Disappearance Convention 2006, art 2)[25] whereas the Rome Statue definition requires perpetration by, or with the authorization, support of acquiescence of, a state or political organization (1998, art 7(2)(i)).

Grave breaches correspond to a category of Rome Statute war crimes (1998, art 8(2)(b)), but one which is expressly limited to situations of international armed conflict (1998, art 8(2)(b); Cassese 2008, pp. 87-88, 89). In respect of both the conventions and the Rome Statute, grave breaches cannot be committed, and the obligation to extradite or prosecute cannot be engaged, in purely internal armed conflict.

Finally, hostage taking may be charged as a war crime (Rome Statute 1998, art 8(2)(a)(viii) & art 8(2)(c)(iii)). However, the scope of the Hostages Convention is limited by article 12 to situations in respect of which the Geneva Conventions do not create a ‘prosecute or extradite’ obligation (1979). As the Geneva Convention obligations are limited to international armed conflict (see above), the application of the Hostages Convention obligation is effectively limited to non-international armed conflict (Dinstein 2014, p. 170; Rosenstock 1980, p. 184; R v Zardad (Faryadi) [2004], paras 2, 10, 15). In this respect it plays something of a ‘gap filling’ role to the Geneva Conventions (Tuck 2015, pp. 313-314).

Further, the Hostages Convention does not apply to acts of hostage taking committed by and against nationals of the same state, within that state, where the offender is found in the territory of that state (1979, art 13). It will thus only become relevant to a person accused of committing an offence where there is some international aspect, or they leave the state to another which is a party to the convention. Thus, for a state which finds a person on their territory who is alleged to have committed an offence elsewhere, the obligation to prosecute or extradite applies in the same manner as the other conventions.

This variety of caveats and qualifications can create the impression of a loose patchwork of obligations. But these diverse offences are crucial because, simply put, it only takes one relevant offence among many in a warrant or indictment to trigger the obligation to prosecute or extradite that person. For example, in Belgium v Senegal, although the Court was only concerned with obligations relating to torture as defined in the Convention, the initial extradition request stemmed from an international arrest warrant issued by a Belgian investigating judge which included, as well as torture, serious violations of international humanitarian law, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes ([2012], para 21). Because the practice of ICC indictments thus far has been to allege a multiplicity of charges and engage in cumulative and alternative charging,[26] it is foreseeable that most indictments will touch upon one of the relevant convention offences discussed.

Enforcement

Necessary for a state to seek enforcement before the International Court of Justice against a state hosting an indictee is both jurisdiction and standing. The Court’s jurisdiction is derived from the consent of states, meaning it can be invoked through compromissory clauses, or declarations assuming the compulsory jurisdiction of the court (Statute of the International Court of Justice, art 36). Such compromissory clauses appear in the Convention against Torture (1984, art 30(1)), the Convention against Enforced Disappearances (2006, art 42(1))[27] and the Convention against Hostage taking (1979, art 16(1)), in near identical terms (note that each allows states to opt out by declaration). They provide that any dispute which cannot be settled by negotiation shall be submitted to arbitration, and if this is not possible within six months of the request for arbitration, the dispute may be referred to the Court.

The Geneva Conventions by contrast do not contain any compromissory clause, and thus any action at the International Court of Justice based on their obligations would require reciprocal declarations of acceptance of jurisdiction.[28] Suffice it to say that state parties to those conventions with compromissory clauses may bring disputes between one another before the ICJ, provided neither party has declared themselves not bound by the compromissory clause.

Belgium v Senegal provided the key to potential enforcement by upholding the erga omnes character of aut dedere aut judicare obligations. It is critical because any party to the treaties can seek enforcement against another state party hosting an indictee, whereas on a stricter interpretation of standing only a state with valid jurisdiction over the crime, which had previous requested extradition and been refused, could seek enforcement.[29] The Court in Belgium v Senegal affirmed that obligations owed erga omes partes create a legal interest for every state party to seek enforcement against any other ([2012], paras 68-70).[30] The Court held, looking to the object and purpose of the Convention against Torture, that in common with the Genocide Convention, states parties share a common interest in ending the relevant crimes ([2012], paras 68-70).[31] The preambles to the Enforced Disappearances Convention (2006) and Hostages Convention (1979) reveal similar statements of object and purpose.[32]

As noted above, enforcement of the Geneva Conventions at the Intertantional Criminal Court is difficult because of the lack of compromissory clause. However, if states have made a declaration of acceptance of jurisdiction, there is at least one international decision indicating that international humanitarian law generally creates obligations erga omnes, and the relevant treaties (in this case the Geneva Conventions) create erga omnes contractanes (erga omnes partes), as opposed to synallgmatic (reciprocity based) obligations (Kupreškić et al. Decision of 17 February 1999).[33]

Therefore, generally state parties can enforce against other state parties the above conventions if an indictee visits their territory. In the case of al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa, his first arrest warrant includes the charge of torture as a crime against humanity (Al Bashir, Warrant of Arrest [2009]), and South Africa is a signatory to the Convention against Torture (and has made no reservation to article 7). Any other state party to the Convention against Torture could thus seek enforcement of the obligation against South Africa, even if it chooses to leave the Rome Statute.

Both the Hostages Convention and Convention against Torture boast large proportions of the international community as state parties (174 and 158 states respectively, at time of writing), whereas the Convention against Enforced Disappearances is comparatively less well ratified (51 states at time of writing).

Finally, a more comprehensive approach could appear in a future convention on Crimes against Humanity. The Special Rapporteur on Crimes Against Humanity, Mr. Sean Murphy, has indicated that a second report on the topic planned for 2016 would cover, inter alia, obligations to criminalise, extend national jurisdiction and extradite or prosecute (International Law Commission 2015b, para 179).[34] Currently the International Law Commission has provisionally adopted the first four articles of a draft convention and commentaries to them (2015a, para 113-114).[35] The articles thus far define crimes against humanity in a manner closely following the Rome Statute, and provide obligations to prevent and punish (International Law Commission 2015a, para 116). However, the Special Rapporteur’s proposed timeline anticipates a first reading of the complete draft articles by 2018, and a second reading by 2020 (International Law Commission 2015b, para 182), meaning the entry into force of binding conventional obligations concerning crimes against humanity in general is still on the far horizon.

Enforcement in National Courts

The focus of this article has been on state obligations in international law, and their enforcement in the international arena. But the case of the Pretoria High Court ordering al-Bashir’s arrest is a reminder that national courts and investigative organs have a significant role to play in enforcing these obligations, even where the political will may be lacking at the government level. The audacity of a civil society group seeking the arrest of a sitting head of state, and very nearly achieving it through court order, calls to mind the Pinochet case, where Scotland Yard executed a Spanish arrest warrant over the former Chilean dictator while visiting the UK, despite his close ties to the former Thatcher government. Although Pinochet was ultimately allowed to return to Chile for health concerns, the House of Lords made a striking blow against head of state immunity for torture. (R v Evans, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte [1999] 38 ILM 68 (Q.B. Div’l Ct. 1998); R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte [1998] 3 WLR 1456; annulled by R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No 2) [1999] 2 WLR 272; R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No 3) [1999] 2 WLR 827)

The reasoning of the Pretoria High Court equally makes for a striking statement of the power of courts against executives. After setting out the reasons for making the arrest order of 15 June 2015, the Court discusses the ramifications of the fact that al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country despite the interim order. After reminding the Respondents – 12 organs of government including Ministers and Directors General – of the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law (SALC v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development [2015], para 37.1), the Court makes this rebuke:

A democratic State based on the rule of law cannot exist or function, if the government ignores its constitutional obligations and fails to abide by Court orders. A Court is the guardian of justice, the corner-stone of a democratic system based on the rule of law, if the State, an organ of State or State official does not abide by Court orders, the democratic edifice will crumble stone-by-stone until it collapses and chaos ensues. ([2015], para 37.2)[36]

This case illustrates that the importance of the role of national actors, be they domestic courts, independent prosecutors or civil society should not be underestimated.

Conclusion 

So, Caveat Vistator: but indicted visitors must beware not just Rome Statute membership where they visit, but parties to the Conventions against Torture, Enforced Disappearances and Hostage taking, to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol I, former members of the Rome Statute who remain members of the Genocide Convention, and any state the Security Council decides shall cooperate with the ICC. In all of these cases there are existing obligations which have sufficient clarity to say that they bind states, and present a good chance of enforcement.

It is true that none of these are as clear or uncomplicated as would be ideal. Utopians can hope for stronger UNSC Resolutions, such as in the manner envisaged by the Office of the Prosecutor in its informal expert paper (2003, para 93), further development of the extradite or prosecute obligation towards the position articulated in Article 9 of the Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind (1996), and a Convention against Crimes against Humanity earlier than 2025. Further, this article has not fully dealt with all of the complexities of this broad area – outside the scope of this piece have been the current position of head of state immunity, the interaction between enforcement at the International Court of Justice and the Rome Statute provisions for settlement of disputes (1998, art 119) questions of complementarity (such as if a non-state party chooses to prosecute an ICC indictee), and the relevance, if any, of regional schemes for extradition[37] – each of these are topics for another day.

17th and 18th Century piracy’s gift to international law was the concept of hostes humani generis – the perpetrators of certain crimes, as the common enemies of mankind, were to find no safe haven without jurisdiction to punish them (Cassese 2008, p. 28). The experience of al-Bashir demonstrates a more modest reality: that modern international criminals face a gradually tightening ‘web’ of states where visiting risks arrest and surrender, thus far generally considered to consist of state parties to the Rome Statute. But the purpose of this article has been to show that this web is, at least at law, far wider. This realisation is critical for those advancing the universalisation of international criminal law, and the arrest of indictees like Omar al-Bashir. 

 

References cited

Treaties

Charter of the United Nations.

Statute of the International Court of Justice.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, opened for signature 17 July 1998, 2187 UNTS 90 (entered into force 1 July 2002).

International Criminal Court, Elements of Crimes, Doc No ICC-ASP/1/3(Part.II-B) (adopted 9 September 2002).

International Criminal Court, Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Doc No ICC-ASP/1/3(Part.II-A) (adopted 9 September 2002).

International Criminal Court, Regulations of the Court, Doc No ICC-BD/01-03-11 (adopted 29 June 2012).

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 10 December 1984, 1465 UNTS 85 (entered into force 26 June 1987).

International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, 20 December 2006, 2716 UNTS 3 (entered into force 23 December 2010).

International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages, 17 December 1979, 1316 UNTS 205 (entered into force 3 June 1983).

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948, 78 UNTS 277 (entered into force 12 January 1951).

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 31 (entered into force 21 October 1950).

Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 85 (entered into force 21 October 1950).

Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 135 (entered into force 21 October 1950).

Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 287 (entered into force 21 October 1950).

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts, 8 June 1977, 1125 UNTS 3 (entered into force 7 December 1978).

Security Council Resolutions

Security Council resolution 827, UN Doc S/RES/827 (25 May 1993).

Security Council resolution 955, UN Doc S/RES/955 (8 November 1994).

Security Council resolution 1593, UN Doc S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005).

Security Council resolution 1828, UN Doc S/RES/1828 (31 July 2008).

Security Council resolution 1970, UN Doc S/RES/1970 (26 February 2011).

Secuirty Council resolution 2211, UN Doc S/RES/2211 (26 March 2015).

International Court of Justice Cases 

Questions Relating to the Oligation to Prosecute or Extradite (Belgium v Senegal) (Judgement) [2012] ICJ Rep 422. 

Case Concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia and Montenegro) (Judgement) [2007] ICJ Rep 43.

Questions of Interpretation and Application of the 1971 Montreal Convention arising from the Aerial Incident at Lockerbie (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya v United Kingdom) (Order of 14 April 1992) [1992] ICJ Reports 114.

Case Concerning Barcelona Traction, Light, and Power Company, Ltd (Belgium v Spain) (Second Phase) [1970] ICJ Reports 3.

International Criminal Court Cases

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Warrant of Arrest) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-1, 4 March 2009).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decision informing the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute about Omar Al-Bashir’s recent visit to the Republic of Chad) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-109, 27 August 2010).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decision informing the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of the States Parties to the Rome Statute about Omar Al-Bashir’s recent visit to Djibouti) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-129, 12 May 2011).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decision Pursuant to Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute on the Failure by the Republic of Malawi to Comply with the Cooperation Requests Issued by the Court with respect to the Arrest and Surrender of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-139, 12 December 2011).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decision pursuant to article 87(7) of the Rome Statute on the refusal of the Republic of Chad to comply with the cooperation requests issued by the Court with respect to the arrest and surrender of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-140-tENG, 13 December 2011).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decision on the Non-compliance of the Republic of Chad with the Cooperation Requests Issued by the Court Regarding the Arrest and Surrender of Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber II, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-151, 26 March 2013).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decison regarding Omar Al Bashir’s Potential Travel to the Federal Republic of Ethiopia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-164, 10 October 2013).

Prosecutor v Al Bashir (Decison on the Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of the Congo regarding Omar Al Bashir’s arrest and surrender to the Court) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber I, Case No ICC-02/05-01/09-195, 9 April 2014).

Prosecutor v Bemba (Decision Pursuant to Article 61(7)(a) and (b) of the Rome Statute on the Charges of the Prosecutor Against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo) (International Criminal Court, Pre-Trial Chamber II, Case No ICC-01/05-01/08-424, 15 June 2009).

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Cases

 Prosecutor v Milošević (Indictment) (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Case No IT-99-37, 22 May 1999).

Prosecutor v Kupreškić et al. (Decision on Evidence of the Good Character of the Accused and the Defence of Tu Quoque) (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Case No IT-95-16, 17 February 1999).

Prosecutor v Kupreškić et al. (Trial Judgement) (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Case No IT-95-16, 14 January 2000).

Prosecutor v Furundžija (Trial Judgement) (International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Case No IT-95-17/1, 10 December 1998).

Special Court for Sierra Leone Cases

Prosecutor v Taylor (Indictment) (Special Court for Sierra Leone, Case No SCSL-03-01-I, 7 March 2003).

Communications of the Committee against Torture

Committee against Torture, Decision: Communication No. 120/1998, UN Doc CAT/C/22/D/120/1998 (‘Elmi v Australia’).

Committee against Torture, Decision: Communication No.117/2001, UN Doc CAT/C/28/D/177/2001 (‘H.M.H.I. v Australia’).

United Kingdom Cases

R v Evans, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte [1999] 38 ILM 68 (Q.B. Div’l Ct. 1998)

R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte [1998] 3 WLR 1456;

R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No 2) [1999] 2 WLR 272;

R v Bow Street Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Pinochet Ugarte (No 3) [1999] 2 WLR 827.

R v Zardad (Faryadi), Ruling on the Taking of Hostages Act 1982 (Unreported, Central Criminal Court, Treacy J) 5 October 2004. Available from: <www.redress.org/downloads/news/zardad%205%20oct%202004.pdf>. [10 January 2016]

South African Cases

Southern Africa Litigation Centre v Minister of Justice and Consitutional Development (Unreported, High Court, Fabricius J) 14 June 2015 (‘Interim Order’).

Southern Africa Litigation Centre v Minister of Justice and Consitutional Development [2015] ZAGPPHC 204 (24 June 2015) (High Court).

Minister of Justice and Consitutional Development v Southern Africa Litigation Centre [2015] ZAGPPHC 675 (16 September 2015) (High Court).

International Documents

International Law Commission, Survey of multilateral conventions which may be of relevance for the work of the International Law Commission on the topic “The obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare)” Study by the Secretariat, UN Doc A/CN.4/630 (2010).

International Law Commission, Chapter VI: The obligation to extradite or prosecute (aut dedere aut judicare), in Report of the International Law Commission, UN Doc A/69/10 (2014).

International Law Commission, Chapter VII: Crimes against humanity, in Report of the International Law Commission, UN Doc A/70/10 (2015a).

International Law Commission, First report on crimes against humanity By Sean D. Murphy, Special Rapporteur, UN Doc A/CN.4/680 (2015b).

‘Draft Code of Crimes Against the Peace and Security of Mankind’ [1996] II(2) Yearbook of the International Law Commission 17.

Council of Europe, Extradition, European Standards: Explanatory notes on the Council of Europe convention and protocol and minimum standards protecting persons subject to transnational criminal proceedings (Council of Europe Publishing, Strasbourg, 2006).

Office ot the Prosecutor, Informal expert paper: Fact-finding and investigative functions of the office of the Prosecutor, including international co-operation (2003).

Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, United Nations, New York (ST/LEG/SER.E) Available from: <https://treaties.un.org/Pages/ParticipationStatus.aspx>. [20 December 2015].

African Union Documents

African Union Peace and Security Council, Communique of the 142nd Meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC/MIN/Comm (CXLII)), 21 July 2008.

African Union Peace and Security Council, Communique of the 175th Meeting of the Peace and Security Council (PSC/PR/Comm (CLXXV)), 5 March 2009.

African Union Assembly, Decision on the Application by the International Criminal Court Prosecutor for the Indictment of the President of Sudan (Assembly/AU/Dec.221 (XII)), 3 February 2009a.

African Union Assembly, Decision on the Meeting of the African States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), (Assembly/AU/Dec. 245(XIII) Rev. 1), 3 July 2009b.

African Union Assembly, Decision on the Progress Report of the Commission on the Implementation of Decision Assembly/ AU/Dec.270(XIV) on the Second Ministerial Meeting on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), (Assembly/AU/Dec.296(XV)), 27 July 2010.

Books and Journal Articles

Akande, D. 2009, ‘The Legal Nature of Security Council Referrals to the ICC and its Impact on Al-Bashir’s Immunities’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol 7, p. 333.

Cassese, A. 2008, International Criminal Law, 2nd ed, Oxford University Press.

Dinstein, Y. 2014, Non-International Armed Conflicts in International Law, Cambridge University Press.

Gaeta, P. 2009, ‘Does President Al Bashir Enjoy Immunity from Arrest?’, Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol 7, p. 315.

Grotius, H 1925, De Jure Belli ac Pacis, trans. F. Kelsey, Clarendon Press.

Rosenstock, R. 1980, ‘The International Convention against the Taking of Hostages: Another International Community Step against Terrorism’, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, vol. 9, p. 169.

Tuck, D. 2015, ‘Taking of Hostages’ in The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, eds A. Clapham, P. Gaeta, M. Sassòli, Oxford University Press.

Schabas, W. 2011, An Introduction to the International Criminal Court, 4th ed, Cambridge University Press.

War Crimes Research Office, International Criminal Court Legal Analysis and Education Project 2010, The Practice of Cumulative Charging at the International Criminal Court, American University Washington College of Law.

News Reports

Immanuel, S. 2015, ‘Namibia: Cabinet Affirms ICC Withdrawal’, AllAfrica 24 November. Available from: <http://allafrica.com/stories/201511240340.html>. [10 December 2015].

Reuters, 2015, ‘South Africa plans to leave International Criminal Court’, 11 October. Available from: <http://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-icc-idUSKCN0S50HM20151011>. [20 December 2015].

Southern African Litigation Centre, ‘South Africa/Sudan: Seeking Implementation of ICC Arrest Warrant for President Bashir’. Available from: <http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/cases/ongoing-cases/south-africasudan-seeking-implementation-of-icc-arrest-warrant-for-president-bashir/>. [20 December 2015].

The Guardian, 2016, ‘African Union members back Kenyan plan to leave ICC’, 2 February. Available from: <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/01/african-union-kenyan-plan-leave-international-criminal-court>. [2 February 2016].

Notes

[1]       The Rome Statute itself does not make use of the terms indictment or indictee, instead referring to ‘persons subject to a warrant of arrest’. See, e.g. Rome Statute 1998, art 60(1). Indictee is used here for ease of reference.

[2]        See Gaeta 2009; contra Akande 2009 and Al Bashir, Decision of 9 April 2014.

[3]       The Southern African Litigation Centre (‘SALC’), accessed at <http://www.southernafricalitigationcentre.org/cases/ongoing-cases/south-africasudan-seeking-implementation-of-icc-arrest-warrant-for-president-bashir/> on 20 December 2015.

[4]       Similarly, on the 23rd of November it was announced that the Namibian cabinet had approved a recommendation for that country to leave the Rome Statute: (Immanuel, 2015).

[5]       There is both a general obligation to cooperate with the Court in Article 86, and specific obligations to cooperate with requests from the Court in Article 87, of which a request for arrest and surrender provided for in Article 89 is a species.

[6]       See Al Bashir, Decision of 9 April 2014, and previously, Decision of 27 August 2010; Decision of 12 May 2011; Decision of 12 December 2011; Decision of 13 December 2011; Decision of 10 October 2013; and Decision of 26 March 2013.

[7]       Often referred to as the first sitting head of state to be indicted by any international criminal tribunal, however the initial indictment of Slobodan Milošević at the ICTY for crimes in Kosovo came in May 1999, while he was still president of Serbia. His indictment was later amended to include crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after his fall from power and arrest in Serbia. See Milošević, Indictment [1999]. Similarly Charles Taylor was indicted by the SCSL while he was still President of Liberia. See Taylor, Indictment [2003].

[8]       Note that Chad entered a reservation to the relevant non-cooperation paragraph. The position of non-cooperation was repeated in July of the following year: AU Assembly 2010, para 5.

[9]       As the Pre-Trial Chamber has recognised, one imagines wistfully, “the Court has no enforcement mechanism and thus relies on States’ cooperation, without which it cannot fulfil its mandate and contribute to ending impunity.” Al Bashir, Decision of 10 October 2013, para 8.

[10]        See Gaeta 2009; contra Akande 2009.

[11]       “Persons charged with genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be tried by a competent tribunal of the State in the territory of which the act was committed, or by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.”

[12]       Bosnia v Serbia, para 446: “The question whether the Respondent must be regarded as having “accepted the jurisdiction” of the ICTY within the meaning of Article VI must consequently be formulated as follows: is the Respondent obliged to accept the jurisdiction of the ICTY, and to co-operate with the Tribunal by virtue of the Security Council resolution which established it, or of some other rule of international law? If so, it would have to be concluded that, for the Respondent, co-operation with the ICTY constitutes both an obligation stemming from the resolution concerned and from the United Nations Charter, or from another norm of international law obliging the Respondent to co-operate, and an obligation arising from its status as a party to the Genocide Convention, this last clearly being the only one of direct relevance in the present case.” The Court goes on to find that the FRY was under an obligation to co-operate with the ICTY first from the coming into force of the Dayton Accords, and that later its joining the United Nations provided a further basis of obligation to cooperate, due to the Security Council resolution: para 447.

[13]       A hypothetical opposing view could be that the Court in Bosnia v Serbia was speaking to the specific case of a tribunal created by Security Council resolution, rather than treaty: “When drafting the Genocide Convention, its authors probably thought that such a court would be created by treaty: a clear pointer to this lies in the reference to “those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted [the] jurisdiction” of the international penal tribunal.” para 445. This view could suggest than the Court’s subsequent interpretation is limited to the case of a tribunal established by Security Council resolution, and that in the context of the ICC ‘acceptance of jurisdiction’ means simply membership of the Rome Statute.

[14]       The International Law Commission notes that judicare has come to replaced punire “in order to reflect that an alleged offender may be found not guilty.” (2014, para 2).

[15]       The International Law Commission divides instances of the obligation into a typology of four models of obligation. Broadly, these are a) agreements to extradite in respect of certain crimes, with prosecution as a secondary obligation if extradition is refused, b) regional extradition treaties, c) the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Additional Protocol I, and d) the ‘Hague Formula’, derived from the 1970 Hague Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft, and which appears in most of the Conventions discussed below (2014, paras. 6-10). Alternatively, Judge Yusuf in his separate opinion in Belgium v Senegal articulated two categories of conventions creating the obligation: a) those which impose first an obligation to extradite, where prosecution becomes an obligation only after extradition has been refused, and b) those which impose a primary obligation to prosecute, with extradition as an alternative to relieve that obligation: ([2012] paras 19-22).

[16]       “The State Party in the territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in Article 4 is found shall in cases contemplated in Article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.”

[17]       “The State Party in the territory of which the alleged offender is found shall, if it does not extradite him, be obliged, without exception whatsoever and whether or not the offence was committed in its territory, to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, through proceedings in accordance with the laws of that State.”

[18]       “The State party in the territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed an offence of enforced disappearance is found shall, if it does not extradite that person or surrender him or her to another State in accordance with its international obligations or surrender him or her to an international criminal tribunal whose jurisdiction it has recognized, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.”

[19]       “Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.”: Articles 49, 50, 129 and 146 of Geneva Conventions I, II, III and IV respectively; “The provisions of the Conventions relating to the repression of breaches and grave breaches, supplemented by this Section, shall apply to the repression of breaches and grave breaches of this Protocol.”: Additional Protocol I, art 85(1).

[20]       “Without prejudice to the jurisdiction of an international criminal court, the State party in the territory of which an individual alleged to have committed a crime set out in article 17 [genocide], 18 [crimes against humanity], 19 [crimes against United Nations and associated personnel] or 20 [war crimes] is found shall extradite or prosecute that individual.” The Draft Code later became the basis for the Rome Statute, hence replacing the obligation aut dedere aut judicare with cooperation obligations.

[21]       Judge Xue dissents on other points, namely admissibility and the nature of obligations erga omnes.

[22]       The necessary additional requirements of torture as a war crime are observed by Cassese (2008, pp. 149-150).

[23]       The necessary additional requirements of torture as a crime against humanity are observed by Cassese (2008, pp. 149-150).

[24]       That widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearance constitutes a crime against humanity is reaffirmed in the preamble and article 5 of the Enforced Disappearance Convention.

[25]       Note that article 3 encourages combatting disappearances perpetrated by non-state actors.

[26]       Cumulative charging however is a controversial practice, see Bemba (Decision of 15 June 2009); and the contrary view: War Crimes Research Office (2010).

[27]       “Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the interpretation or application of this Convention which cannot be settled through negotiation or by the procedures expressly provided for in this Convention shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration. If within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the Parties are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those Parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request in conformity with the Statute of the Court.”

[28]       As an example, Judge Sebutinde found that declarations accepting jurisdiction by both parties to the Belgium v Senegal case could have founded jurisdiction ([2012], Separate Opinion of Judge Sebutinde, paras 32-40).

[29]       For a clear articulation of this strict alternative view, see Belgium v Senegal [2012], Dissenting Opinion of Judge Xue, paras. 12-23.

[30]       The nature of erga omnes obligations was previously explained by the Court (in obiter) in Belgium v Spain ([1970], para 33).

[31]       Also see Furundžija [1998] paras 151-152.

[32]       Hostages Convention, preamble: “Being convinced that it is urgently necessary to develop international co-operation between States in devising and adopting effective measures for the prevention, prosecution and punishment of all acts of taking of hostages as manifestations of international terrorism”; Enforced Disappearances Convention, preamble: “Determined to prevent enforced disappearances and to combat impunity for the crime of enforced disappearance”.

[33]       Reiterated in Kupreškić et al., Trial Judgement [2000] para 23: “This body of law does not lay down synallagmatic obligations, i.e obligations based on reciprocity, but obligations erga omnes (or, in the case of treaty obligations, obligations erga omnes contractantes) which are designed to safeguard fundamental human values and therefore must be complied with regardless of the conduct of the other party or parties.”

[34]       “A second report, to be submitted in 2016, will likely address… the obligation to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, unless the person is extradited to another State or surrendered to an international court or tribunal…”

[35]       The draft articles were adopted at the 3263rd meeting on 5 June 2015. The commentaries were adopted at the 3282nd meeting on 3 August 2015.

[36]       To add insult to (symbolic) injury, the Court awards costs against the Respondents “on a pro-bono basis” at para 2, and invites the NDPP to consider criminal charges at para 39.

[37]       See, e.g. Council of Europe (2006, pp. 119-122).

 

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