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No Impunity for Crimes Committed in Georgia

30.06.2010
On June 22-24 delegation of the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court conducted a visit in Georgia. The main purpose of the visit was to gather additional information from the Georgian authorities on the on-going national investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the context of the August 2008 armed conflict in South Ossetia, Georgia.

After the visit, the Office of the Prosecutor published a press-release.

The Human Rights Center publishes herein the full version of the press-release of the Office of the Prosecutor.

Press Release: 25.06.2010

No impunity for crimes committed in Georgia: OTP concludes second visit to Georgia in context of preliminary examination

ICC-OTP-20100625-PR551

A delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court conducted a three-day visit, 22-24 June, to Georgia a State Party to the Rome Statute that created the Court. The main purpose of the visit was to gather additional information from the Georgian authorities on the on-going national investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the context of the August 2008 armed conflict in South Ossetia, Georgia. The Court potentially has jurisdiction over ICC crimes allegedly committed on the territory of Georgia , including forced displacement of civilians, killing of peacekeepers and attacks against civilian targets.

“The Rome Statute ensures the end of impunity” said ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo from The Hague . “States have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute; the Court only steps in if there are no genuine national proceedings.”

During the visit, the delegation received an update on national investigations being carried out by the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia and his team, and met with the State Minister for Reintegration, the Chief of the Supreme Court, and other senior officials from the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Defence. The delegation also met with Georgian NGOs.

“We appreciate the co-operation of the Georgian authorities,” said the Prosecutor. “It is mandatory that those most responsible for serious crimes be investigated.”
The OTP made the preliminary examination public on August 2008. Georgia has been a State Party to the Rome Statute since 5 September, 2003. Both the Russian and Georgian authorities provided substantial information on their respective national investigations. The Office conducted a previous visit to Georgia in November 2008, and to Russia in March 2010.

A preliminary examination is the first phase of the Office of the Prosecutor activities, in order to assess if an investigation should be opened. The Office first assesses whether crimes falling under the ICC jurisdiction may have been, or are possibly being committed in a given situation; whether genuine investigations and prosecutions are being carried out by the competent authorities in relation to these crimes; and, as a third step, whether the possible opening of an investigation by the Prosecutor would not go against the interests of justice. During this phase, and in accordance with article 15, the Office proactively evaluates all information on alleged crimes from multiple sources, including “communications” from individuals and parties concerned. The triggering of a preliminary examination does not imply that an investigation will be opened.

The International Criminal Court is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if national authorities with jurisdiction are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely.

The Office of the Prosecutor is currently investigating in five situations: The Democratic Republic of Congo , northern Uganda , the Darfur region of Sudan , the Central African Republic and Kenya
Source: Office of the Prosecutor

You can read the press-release on the following link: http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/E04BFB24-4AA8-4101-B944-20C82AFEF665.htm

Note to Editors :

The Human Rights Center has been cooperating with the Office of Prosecutor and periodically provides it with information about the facts documented by the Center which suggest that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law took place during the armed conflict in August 2008.

In May this year Georgian human rights organizations – the Human Rights Priority, the Human Rights Center, the International Center on Conflict and Negotiation, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Article 42 of the Constitution, the Georgian Young Lawyers Association and the Union “XXI Century” founded a Georgian Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

The goals of the coalition are to document crimes, which fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity), in particular related to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war, to facilitate execution of judiciary in this regard at national and international levels, to provide legal and other forms of assistance to those people who have been effected by those crimes, to raise awareness about the International Criminal Court in Georgia, to cooperate with the court and to foster research and analysis in the field of international criminal law.
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