Why Iraq should join the ICC

Extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is allegedly responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people since June and has reportedly enslaved 300 women of the minority Yazidi ethnic group, in addition to displacing thousands of Yazidis.

Ross Robertson, PGA president and New Zealand MP:

“Attacks directed against civilian populations because of their ethnic or political background, religion or belief, may constitute a crime against humanity, and certain acts if committed with the intent to destroy, may constitute genocide. The perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice.”

PGA has also called on the Iraqi government to immediately accept ICC jurisdiction using special mechanism under the Rome Statute—article 12(3)—to act as a deterrent against further crimes.

Other Coalition members, including Human Rights WatchAmnesty International and theInternational Federation for Human Rights, have also condemned mass atrocities and calling for justice and humanitarian aid.

The UN Security Council similarly condemned the “indiscriminate killing and deliberate targeting of civilians, numerous atrocities, mass executions and extrajudicial killings, including of soldiers, persecution of individuals and entire communities on the basis of their religion or belief, kidnapping of civilians, forced displacement of members of minority groups, killing and maiming of children, recruitment and use of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence, arbitrary detention, attacks on schools and hospitals, destruction of cultural and religious sites and obstructing the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to education” in Iraq.

Meanwhile, a group of religious leaders called on the British government to work towards a Security Council resolution referring the situation to the ICC.

Blogger and ICC researcher Mark Kersten noted that if the situation is referred to the Court, Security Council members would likely restrict the referral to recent events in northern Iraq to ensure that crimes allegedly committed by Western forces during the 2003 Iraq War and the subsequent occupation of the country are beyond the Court’s jurisdiction.

Iraq is already the subject of a preliminary examination by the ICC prosecutor, but that inquiry is limited to the actions of British military forces in Iraq from 2003 to 2008. While the ICC lacks jurisdiction in Iraq, it has jurisdiction over alleged crimes committed by British nationals in Iraq because the United Kingdom is an ICC member state.

The Iraqi government has taken steps to join the ICC before.

In February 2005, the Iraqi interim government announced its decision to accede to the ICC Rome Statute, but withdrew its accession two weeks later without explanation.

The Coalition called on Iraq to join the ICC as part of its Campaign for Global Justice in December 2013.

Have your say – do you think the ICC should intervene in Iraq?