Today, 15 June 2021, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), Mrs Fatou Bensouda, officially published her Office’s Policy on Situation Completion. This policy initiative was a commitment made by the Prosecutor in the Office’s Strategic Plan (2019-2021), and is designed to be consistent with, and to complete, the trilogy of ‘procedural’ policy papers commenced with the Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations (2013) and the Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation (2016).
The Policy on Situation Completion seeks to illustrate the considerations leading to the decision-in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion-that sufficient prosecutions have been brought in a situation to satisfy the Office’s mandate under the Rome Statute. In particular, it explains:
The Situation Strategy, which serves as the benchmark for the Prosecutor in deciding whether the docket of cases to be prosecuted (the “Prosecutorial Programme”) is sufficient;
The broad division in the Office’s work between the “Investigation Phase” and the “Prosecution Phase”;
The scope of the Office’s work in the Investigation Phase, including the need to manage selected cases which have been effectively de-prioritised, and
The scope of the Office’s work in the Prosecution Phase, both in concluding the Prosecutorial Programme, and residual activities.
“This is an important development that will serve the Office greatly by providing transparency, clarity and helpful guidance to the complex questions arising from the winding down of activities in relation to a situation under investigation and how best to respond “, stated Prosecutor Bensouda.
The Policy is addressed only to the internal activities of the Office. It is without prejudice to further work which may be carried out by the Court as a whole-with its stakeholders-in consolidating the Court’s legacy in those situations where it exercises its jurisdiction.
The finalised Policy is the by-product of consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, from States Parties to practitioners, academics and members of civil society. It remains an internal document of the Office and, as such, does not give rise to any legal right or cause of action for any individual, organisation, or State. It may be revised, consistent with the discretion vested in the Prosecutor under the Statute, the operational experience of the Office in implementing this policy and the accompanying Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritisation, and any evolution in the applicable legal texts or jurisprudence.
The Office is grateful for the interest and support of the Rome Statute community for its activities and initiatives.
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC’s jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi; Bangladesh/Myanmar, Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request) and Palestine. The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Guinea; Venezuela I; and Venezuela II; and has completed its preliminary examinations of the situations in Ukraine and Nigeria, which are pending requests to seek authorisation to proceed to investigation, and in the situation in the Philippines, which is pending judicial authorisation.