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ICC prosecutor opens preliminary examination into the situation in Mali
Mali Refers Situation in its Territory to ICC

Prosecutor opens preliminary examination

Today, 18 July 2012, a Malian delegation delivered to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda a letter referring "the situation in Mali since January 2012" to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), asking the OTP to begin an investigation to determine whether any persons should be charged for crimes allegedly committed. In response, the OTP has opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Mali. The OTP is currently conducting six other preliminary investigations, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras and Nigeria.

Below, please find the latest statement from the ICC as well as statements from the European Union and Coalition members, along with news and opinion related to the situation in Mali.

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ICC statement

Credit: ICCICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on the Malian State referral of the situation in Mali since January 2012, ICC Office of the Prosecutor press release, 18 July 2012

"Today I received a delegation from the Government of Mali led by the Minister of Justice, H.E. Malick Coulibaly. The delegation transmitted a letter by which the Government of Mali, as a State Party to the ICC, refers 'the situation in Mali since January 2012' to my Office and requests an investigation to determine whether one or more persons should be charged for crimes committed. The Government of Mali submits that the Malian courts are unable to prosecute or try the perpetrators. The Malian delegation also provided documentation in support of the referral.

The referral by the Government of Mali, which is the fourth referral by an African State Party, follows the 30 May 2012 decision by the Malian Cabinet to refer the situation to the ICC. It is in line with the 7 July 2012 request to the ICC by the ECOWAS Contact Group of Mali (composed of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria and Togo) to 'launch the necessary enquiries in order to identify the perpetrators of these war crimes and to initiate the necessary legal proceedings against them.'.

My Office has been following the situation in Mali very closely since violence erupted there around 17 January 2012. On 24 April, as instances of killings, abductions, rapes and conscription of children were reported by several sources, I reminded all actors of ICC jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Mali or by Malian nationals. On 1 July, I stressed that the deliberate destruction of the shrines of Muslim saints in the city of Timbuktu may constitute a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute.

I have instructed my Office to immediately proceed with a preliminary examination of the situation in order to assess whether the Rome Statute criteria stipulated under Article 53.1 for opening an investigation are fulfilled. I will make a public decision in due course. [...]"


Read the government of Mali's referral letter

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EU statement 

Statement by the Spokesperson of High Representative Catherine Ashton on the reckless destruction of historical heritage in Mali, European Union press release, 4 July 2012

"[...] 'The High Representative is deeply concerned about the wanton and ruthless destruction of mausoleums and holy shrines in Timbuktu. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to destroy a valued and ancient part of the religious and cultural heritage not only of Mali’s people but of the whole world. These sacred places of prayer, listed by U!ESCO as World Heritage, must be protected now and for posterity. The High Representative condemns all such acts of destruction and reaffirms the EU’s commitment to support the Malian people in the re-establishment of legitimate and accountable government throughout the country.'"  

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Coalition member statements

Credit: FIDHLe Mali saisit le Procureur de la Cour pénale internationale sur les crimes commis au Nord (Mali seizes Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court over crimes committed in the North), FIDH press release, 18 July 2012

"FIDH and its member organization in Mali, AMDH welcome the referral today by the Malian government to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate international crimes committed in Mali for the past six months and to prosecute those most responsible. Our organizations call on the Office of the Prosecutor to initiate, as soon as possible, an investigation of international crimes that have gone unpunished. We call on the Malian transitional government and the international community to fully cooperate with the ICC. [...]

'The referral to the ICC by Mali is an important step directed towards the perpetrators of the most serious crimes and victims of these crimes to inform them that atrocities must cease immediately and that these crimes will not go unpunished,' said Souhayr Belhassen, president of FIDH. (informal translation)


See also
Crimes de guerre au Nord Mali (War crimes in North Mali), FIDH press release, 16 July 2012
The AU Must Act Responsibly Regarding the Situation in Mali and the Crisis Between Sudan and South Sudan, FIDH press release, 11 July 2012


Credit: PGAStatement on the referral of the situation in Mali to the ICC, Parliamentarians for Global Action Statement, 18 July 2012

"Mali refers to the ICC the situation in its territory allowing for an eventual opening of investigations on genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes committed since January 2012. The referral is a vow of confidence in the Court from the yet another African nation victimised by the most serious international crimes. PGA will continue working with legislators to equip Mali to cooperate effectively with the ICC."


See also
ICC Prosecutor Bensouda’s Warning to Mali’s Islamic Rebels, Raymond M. Brown, International Justice Project blog post, 5 July 2012 

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News and opinion

Mali asks Hague court to investigate rebel crimes, Reuters, 18 July 2012
Mali’s Prime Minister Offers ECOWAS Transitional Roadmap, James Butty, VOA News, 18 July 2012
Mali unites against the Ansar Dine Islamists in Timbuktu, Thomas Fessy, BBC News, 17 July 2012
Destruction Of Timbuktu's Treasures Continues; Humanitarian Crisis Looms, Mark Memmott, National Public Radio, 13 July 2012
Mali seeks ICC probe into 'atrocities' in occupied north, AFP, 12 July 2012
Islamists destroy 2 more tombs in Mali's Timbuktu, Baba Ahmed, AP, 10 July 2012
U.N. warns of 'dark future' for Mali, UPI, 10 July 2012
Call for war crimes court to probe Mali, Romaric Ollo Hien, SAPA-AFP, 9 July 2012
The crime in Timbuktu, Ali Ibrahim, Al Arabiya, 4 July 2012
International community mulls action in bid to save Mali’s north from Islamist militants, AFP, 3 July 2012
Timbuktu shrine destruction a 'war crime': ICC, Serge Daniel, AFP, 1 July 2012

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Coalition policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts. Communications to the ICC can be sent to: ICC, P.O. Box 19519, 2500 CM, The Hague, the Netherlands. 

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