The Office of The Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court issued a statement today announcing that it is following developments in Mali after reports of possible crimes against humanity:
Mali ratified the Rome Statute on 16 August 2000. Therefore, in accordance with Rome Statute provisions, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide that may be committed on the territory of Mali or by Malian nationals as of 1 July 2002. The Office has been closely following the developments in Mali since clashes erupted around 17 January 2012. According to several sources, including senior United Nations officials, crimes such as killings, abductions, rapes and conscription of children may have been committed by various groups in the northern part of the country. The Office will further scrutinize the possible commission of ICC crimes on Malian territory by any party and will make a decision in due course as to whether to undertake a preliminary examination of the situation under Article 15 and Article 53.1 of the Rome Statute.
There have been reports that Tuareg rebels engaged in mass rape in Mali’s north particularly in the city of Gao during their short lived uprising that began in January and ended on April 6th after ECOWAS nations began preparation for military intervention. The Malian government has also been accused by Amnesty International of bombing civilians. It is unclear from the report whether crimes are being examined on both sides. The Malian government had earned the good graces of the court earlier this year by agreeing to become the first country to jail International Criminal Court prisoners convicted at the court. The court is currently prosecuting crimes in seven official ‘situations’ all of them in Africa.