Gabonese Republic Refers Case to the International Criminal Court

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Many have argued that there might perhaps be some elements of truth in the long-held perception that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is witch-hunting or selectively prosecuting only Africans and those from the third world. However, it is equally crucial to understand the modus operandi of the court. In many cases, the ICC starts an investigation / prosecution only after it has been invited by the affected country, which in most cases, must be a member of the ICC. Interestingly, some of these countries, which invited the International Criminal Court to investigate certain atrocities allegedly committed on their soil did so either to intimidate their political opponents or for their political gains and personal aggrandisement. Ironically, more often than not, in the process of the investigation, the host becomes a suspect.

Recently, the Gabonese Republic, a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC, invited the International Criminal Court “to open an investigation without delay,“ regarding the situation in Gabon since May 2016 with no end-date. Interestingly, President Ali Bongo claimed he won the latest presidential election in his country, which both oppositions and the Western / African election observers seriously declared fraudulent. The political situation in Gabon has been very explosive since the election results were announced. The oppositions in the country have flatly refused to accept the outcome of the election. Many innocent citizens who were demonstrating against the outcome of the election were killed. The recent resignation of the country`s Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga, over the refusal of President Bongo to organise a recount, does not help the dicey political situation in Gabon.

The question many are asking is: Is there really a serious ground for President Ali Bongo to invite the ICC “to open an investigation without delay “in Gabon or is the invitation a tool to silence his opponents? Will the invitation eventually become counterproductive and a harbinger of the political doom of the President who sent out the invitation? Time will tell.

Below is the   statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, concerning referral from the Gabonese Republic:


On 21 September 2016, I received a referral from the Government of the Gabonese Republic regarding the situation in Gabon since May 2016 with no end-date. In reference to article 14 of the Rome Statute, Rule 45 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and Regulation 25(1)(b) of the Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor, the Government of the Gabonese Republic requests the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) “to open an investigation without delay“.

In accordance with the requirement of the Rome Statute my Office will be conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met. A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute.

Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, as Prosecutor, I must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination.   The Office gives due consideration to all submissions and views conveyed to it during the course of a preliminary examination, strictly guided by the requirements of the Rome Statute and in the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate.

My Office will examine information regarding crimes allegedly committed by any groups or individuals involved in the situation. Where a referral is accompanied by supporting documentation that identifies potential perpetrators, my Office is not bound or constrained by the information contained therein when conducting investigations in order to determine whether specific persons should be charged. After careful analysis of all available information, I shall make a determination that will be made public in due course.

The Gabonese Republic is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such, the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of Gabon since 1 July 2002, the date when the Statute entered into force in Gabon.


 Source: Office of the Prosecutor


Dé claration du Procureur de la Cour pé nale internationale, Fatou Bensouda, concernant le renvoi transmis par la Ré publique gabonaise


Le 21  septembre  2016, le Gouvernement de la Ré publique gabonaise m`a dé fé ré la situation se rapportant aux é vé nements qui se produisent au Gabon depuis mai  2016. Les autorité s gabonaises demandent au Procureur de la Cour pé nale internationale (la «  CPI   » ou la «  Cour   ») «  de bien vouloir ouvrir sans dé lai une enquête   » au titre de l`article  14 du Statut de Rome, de la règle  45 du Règlement de procé dure et de preuve et de la norme  25“‘1“‘b du Règlement du Bureau du Procureur.

Conformé ment aux conditions posé es par le Statut de Rome, mon Bureau procèdera à un examen pré liminaire de la situation afin de dé terminer si les critères imposé s pour l`ouverture d`une enquête sont ré unis. Un examen pré liminaire ne peut être assimilé à une enquête. Il s`agit d`un processus consistant à examiner les informations disponibles afin de dé terminer, en toute connaissance de cause, s`il existe ou non une base raisonnable pour ouvrir une enquête au regard des critères posé s par le Statut de Rome.

Pour y parvenir, en tant que Procureur, je dois analyser en particulier les questions lié es à la compé tence, à la recevabilité et aux inté rêts de la justice, ainsi qu`il est pré vu à l`article 53“‘1 du Statut de Rome. Le Bureau tient dûment compte de l`ensemble des observations et des points de vue qui lui sont transmis au cours de l`examen pré liminaire, guidé exclusivement par les exigences du Statut de Rome pour mener à bien sa mission en toute indé pendance et en toute impartialité .

Mon Bureau examinera les informations relatives aux crimes qui auraient é té commis par tout groupe ou individu impliqué dans cette situation. Lorsque des documents joints à un renvoi identifient des responsables potentiels, le Bureau n`est ni lié ni contraint par les informations qu`ils contiennent lorsqu`il mène des enquêtes pour dé terminer quelles sont les personnes qui doivent être inculpé es. Après un examen minutieux de tous les renseignements dont je dispose, je ferai connaître ma dé cision en temps opportun.

La Ré publique gabonaise est un État partie au Statut de Rome, ce qui signifie que la CPI peut exercer sa compé tence à l`é gard d`actes de gé nocide, de crimes contre l`humanité et de crimes de guerre commis sur son territoire ou par ses ressortissants à compter du 1er  juillet 2002, date d`entré e en vigueur du Statut dans ce pays.


Situation dé fé ré e au titre de l`article  14 du Statut de Rome par la Ré publique gabonaise


Pour ré fé rence, veuillez consulter le Document de politique gé né rale relatif aux examens pré liminaires, novembre  2013 (paragraphe 27 en particulier) du Bureau du Procureur


Le Bureau du Procureur de la CPI mène des enquêtes et des poursuites à propos du crime de gé nocide, de crimes contre l`humanité et de crimes de guerre, en toute indé pendance et en toute impartialité . Il poursuit actuellement des enquêtes en Côte d`Ivoire, au Darfour (Soudan), en Gé orgie, au Kenya, en Libye, au Mali, en Ouganda, en Ré publique centrafricaine (deux enquêtes distinctes) et en Ré publique dé mocratique du Congo. Il conduit é galement des examens pré liminaires à propos des situations en Afghanistan, au Burundi, en Colombie, en Guiné e, en Iraq/Royaume-Uni, au Nigé ria, en Palestine et en Ukraine et de la situation relative aux navires battant pavillon comorien, grec et cambodgien.


Source : Bureau du Procureur