Justice Update – Legal Contortions

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Quite regularly, Janet and Stephanie are invited to witness when a group of lawyers ‘sends a case’ to the International Criminal Court. Of course, we know, and you know, it doesn’t quite work like that.

In fact, the ICC receives communications. And only much later does the prosecutor’s office let us know how they’ve analysed all the information: Where did the crimes happen – in an ICC member country? Is it a crime under the Rome Statute? Are the crimes serious? Etc etc.

But ever since judges agreed with the prosecution that the court could deal with crimes committed in Myanmar (not a member country) because they continued into Bangladesh (member country), we have been watching various legal contortions. One ripple effect may be the ICC tackling Syria (not a member) crimes via Jordan (member). Now we’ve been asked to consider very serious alleged crimes against the Uighur muslim community, in China (not a member) via the crimes beginning in Tajikistan or Cambodia (members).

We’ve discussed how it works before with Amsterdam law professor Kevin Jon Heller, in a big meaty episode where get into the detail.

But this time we’re just reporting on this latest China/Uighur/Tajikistan attempt. It’s made headlines in some international press, here and here for example. And adds another twist for those who want the court to be more active and universal and for those who think it should focus on what’s doable. Could it show the court is prepared to go after big human rights offenders? Is it really practical to take on another UN Security Council member?