Criminal Prosecutions

Understanding the International Criminal Court (p. 3-6, 13-17, 35-38)

Established in 1998 under the Rome Statue, the International Criminal Court (ICC) was founded as a “permanent international court established to investigate, prosecute, and try individuals accused of committing the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.” Over 120 countries have ratified the Rome Statue. Crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC include genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and sometimes the crime of aggression. To begin to understand the ICC’s role in the world and to learn about the mechanisms by which the ICC operates, it is highly recommended that you read pages 3-6, 13-17, and 35-38 of this source. The source also manages to delve into more complex matters, such as under what conditions the ICC has the authority to exercise its jurisdiction, the often-controversial relationship between the ICC and African countries, and the participation of victims in criminal proceedings. Additionally, this source briefly mentions the Trust Fund for Victims. To learn more about the Trust Fund for Victims, please read “Assistance to Victims of Sexual Violence” (refer to WorldLink Reader section on Reparation Programs).

International Criminal Court. “Understanding the International Criminal Court.” p. 3-6, 13-17, 35-38. Web. June 2014. <>.


Address to the United Nations Security Council: Six-Monthly Report on the Completion Strategy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) By Judge Vagn Joensen, President

In his speech to the United Nations Security Council in June 2014, Judge Vagn Joensen reports on the status and recent progress of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as it “[approaches] the conclusion of two decades of judicial work.” The speech begins by discussing rather technical matters – that the ICTR has for the most part remained on schedule, will continue to work on the relocation of certain individuals, will hopefully transfer records and archives in a timely manner, and that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will soon be launching a study on reparations. It then discusses the process of transitional justice in Rwanda in broader terms. He states that although the creation of the ICTR began as “an experiment in international justice,” Rwanda has achieved much over the past twenty years, largely due to the groundbreaking work of the ICTR. For example, according to Judge Joensen, the nation has formed a “stable and functioning” government, as well as a strong judicial system. For a brief history that will allow you to more fully understand the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of over 800,000 people, please read the United Human Rights Council’s “Genocide in Rwanda.” Reading this source prior to reading Judge Vagn Joensen’s address will allow for a deeper understanding of his speech.

Joensen, Vagn. “Address to the United Nations Security Council: Six-Monthly Report on the Completion Strategy of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) By Judge Vagn Joensen, President.” International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. 5 June 2014. Web. June 2014. <>.


Criminal Prosecutions for Human Rights Violations in Argentina

Following a coup d’état in March 1976, the armed forces of Argentina pronounced themselves the new de facto regime of the nation. With this proclamation came a dramatic wave of massive human rights violations that shook the nation of Argentina. These massive violations of human rights included “thousands of deaths, prolonged and arbitrary arrests, disappearances, unfair trials, pervasive torture, in addition to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.” According to the International Center for Transitional Justice, “possibly up to 30,000 people were abducted by security forces” during this “Dirty War.” With the restoration of democracy in 1983 came the initial efforts in the search for truth, peace, and justice in Argentina. Despite these strong efforts, the transitioning nation faced severe obstacles, ranging from the staged uprisings of military factions to the implementation of blanket amnesty legislation, which discontinued the “great majority of around four hundred investigations.” In spite of this, Argentina pressed forward. Eventually, major amnesty legislation was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and since then, “more than 600 accused face criminal counts before federal courts, and sixty two have already been sentenced.” While there are still some inherent difficulties that exist in the process today, Argentina is now regarded as the nation with “one of the best records of transitional justice in the world.” In fact, the case of Argentina is considered by experts to be “linked to the very inception of the transitional justice field” itself.

International Center for Transitional Justice. “Criminal Prosecutions for Human Rights Violations in Argentina.” November 2009. Web. June 2014. <>.

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