Nauru: Complete International Criminal Court implementation process

The Pacific island nation of Nauru should build on recent progressive justice advances by enacting national legislation to implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Nauru is the focus of the Coalition’s Campaign for Global Justice for September 2016. The long-running campaign calls on countries around the world to join the ICC and adopt national laws to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.


“Impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide must be abolished wherever possible around the world. The Coalition strongly encourages Nauru to complete the Rome Statute implementing process, and civil society stands ready to assist in the process,” said Amielle Del Rosario, Asia-Pacific regional coordinator for the Coalition. “Nauru has demonstrated positive progress as an inclusive and responsible member of the international community, including by becoming a member of the ICC. A vital next step is introducing national laws to prosecute war criminals domestically and ensure full cooperation with the ICC.”

Although Nauru ratified the Rome Statute in 2001, becoming one of the first Asian-Pacific countries to do so, it has yet to incorporate the treaty’s provisions into national legislation. Only three Pacific states have taken this necessary step: Australia, New Zealand, and Samoa.

In a letter addressed to His Excellency Baron Waqa, the Coalition called on the President of Nauru to dedicate his offices to complete the implementation process. By taking concrete steps towards introducing legislation containing complementarity and cooperation provisions into domestic law, Nauru will contribute towards the overall objective of ending impunity for the most serious crimes of concern for the international community as a whole.

While incomplete, Nauru has made some progress with respect to upholding justice. In May 2016, the state updated its criminal code, in keeping with its legislative agenda and its obligations under various international treaties, including the Rome Statute.

Among the new laws passed is the comprehensive Crimes Act 2016, which removes references that are inconsistent with international human rights standards. Homosexuality and suicide are no longer considered offenses under Nauruan law, and penalties such as the death penalty, imprisonment with hard labor, and solitary confinement have been removed. Other penalties have been increased, including for offenses related to sexual- and gender-based violence, particularly when involving children.