The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has confirmed that weighty human rights matters raised in a petition submitted by over 100 Nigerian lawyers at home and abroad are currently receiving attention.
An 80-page brief providing arguments, evidence, exhibits and appendices had been filed by a consortium of 101 lawyers that included five former Attorneys General of states in the North West and North Central Nigeria, Senior Advocates of Nigeria and several former national and state Nigerian Bar Association officials.
The brief had challenged the Prosecutor for ignoring the atrocities of Fulani Herdsmen in its interminable review of the Nigeria situation and extensively cited submissions and reports made to the ICC over the past 10 years alleging inordinate delay in making a decision on Nigeria.
The petition, entitled: “COMMUNICATION TO THE PROSECUTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CONCERNING THE TEN-YEAR PRELIMINARY EXAMINATION INTO INTERNATIONAL CRIMES COMMITTED IN NIGERIA,” stated that the legal system in Nigeria had inadequately addressed the Boko Haram terrorism and the amnesty given to captured terrorists was a further indication of the lack of justice for victims many of whom are still languishing in displacement.
Accordingly, the petitioners called for prompt and decisive action from the Prosecutor to begin a case on Nigeria at the pretrial chamber.
In its response, the Office of the Prosecutor indicated that some of the matters raised were already under review by the Prosecutor.
Excerpts from the report of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC on the matter had the following highlights:
. All the legal and internal requirements have been met and ‘there is a sensible or reasonable justification’ for believing that crimes falling with the jurisdiction of the Court have been or are being committed. We urge the Prosecutor not to waste any more time and seek the authorisation of the Pre-Trial Chamber to open a propio motu investigation.
. However, in the nearly ten years of ‘examining’ Nigeria, the country has witnessed a decade of violence which exceeds even the 30 months Biafra civil war.
. Insurgency caused over 48,000 deaths. These deaths included over 8000 members one church denomination and represents data as at 2016 only
. recent years show extremely high levels of structural repression and discrimination.
. In 2012, Nigeria accounted for over 50% of global Christian deaths; by 2018, it had peaked to 90% of all Christian deaths worldwide.
. Nigeria has shown herself unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute in an effective way.
. Such negative perceptions can only be remedied by robust action to escalate the review of Nigeria into a full investigation as a matter of utmost urgency.
. We are concerned that the OTP has delayed a decision on opening an investigation at the ICC.
The reply of the Prosecutor to said:
Dear Sir, Madam
The Hague, Monday, 02 November 2020
Our Reference: OTP-CR-459/20
On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 21/09/2020, as well as any subsequent related information.
It appears that your communication relates to a situation already under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor. Accordingly, your communication will be analysed in this context, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information.
Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interests of justice. Analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time.
As soon as a decision is taken on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, we will advise you promptly and we will provide reasons for the decision.
We thank you for your interest in the ICC. If you would like to learn more about the ICC, please consult our website at www.icc-cpi.int. If you would like to learn more about how the Office carries out analysis of information, please see our Policy paper on preliminary examinations, on the Office webpage at the website above.
Mark P. Dillon
Head of the Information and Evidence Unit Office of the Prosecutor.
The US NIGERIA LAW GROUP, Matthew Kukah Foundation and Gideon and Funmi Para-Mallam Peace Foundation were the US and Nigerian organisations that spearheaded the brief.
Lawyers from CLASFON and SOKAPU, US, UK, Fiji and Marshal Islands and Nigeria also signed the petition.