The Hague, June 23, 2011 (FH) - Human Rights Watch (HRW) released on June 8 a report entitled "ICC: Course Correction" in which the non-profit suggests that the ICC prosecutor should strengthen its approach to "preliminary examinations".

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The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is currently conducting nine preliminary examinations for crimes committed in Afghanistan, Georgia, Ivory Coast, Colombia, Honduras, Guinea, Nigeria, Gaza and those committed in South Korea by North Korea.

Preliminary examinations - also called "Situations under analysis" - are situations that the Office of the Prosecutor is assessing to determine whether to open a formal ICC investigation.

According to HRW, preliminary examination should be used "to promote two aims at the heart of the Rome Statute: spurring national justice officials to pursue their own rigorous investigations (complementarity) and signaling to would-be rights violators that the international community is watching (deterrence)".

"The ICC prosecutor's ambitious commitment to use his decision whether to investigate as a spur to national trials is a potential boost for justice", says Elizabeth Evenson, a lawyer at HRW. However, she adds that "he should focus now on putting in place more effective strategies for achieving this".

In its report, HRW claims that the Prosecutor's policy on the matter is "inconsistent" depending on the country, inciting observers to believe that Luis Moreno-Ocampo "is motivated by political factors". His publicized announcements create "frustrated expectations" if there is no follow-up, the report reads. It may end-up "damaging the credibility and legitimacy of the ICC".

In its recommendations, HRW suggests that OTP public statements provide sufficient context and protect due process, propose that OTP make use of interim reports to increase rigor, transparency, and accountability. At last, HRW also states that the OTP should provide general guidance on how long preliminary examinations can be expected to take.


© Hirondelle News Agency