ICC Extends Remit to Include Cases of Environmental Destruction


On Thursday 15th September, Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), published a detailed policy document providing guidance on how her office will prioritise the selection of cases. The document reveals that the OTP is likely to expand its remit to include cases that involve environmental destruction. This means that governments and individuals risk prosecution should they commit a crime linked to the environment, such as landgrabs.

This could represent a major development for the Court as in the past the ICC has received criticism for appearing reluctant to investigate major environmental and cultural crimes that tend to happen during peacetime.

While the ICC has made it clear that it is not formally extending its jurisdiction, it intends to analyze existing offences, such as crimes against humanity, in a wider context. “We are exercising our jurisdiction by looking at the broader context in which crimes are committed. We are extending the focus to include Rome statute crimes already in our jurisdiction,” said Reinhold Gallmetzer, a member of the ICC working group who drew up the policy document.

Global Witness, an anti-corruption group who have been campaigning for the ICC to investigate crimes of this nature have stated in a press release, also issued on Thursday, that: “Today’s decision by the ICC shows that the age of impunity is coming to an end. Company bosses and politicians complicit in violently seizing land, razing tropical forests or poisoning water sources could soon find themselves standing trial in the Hague alongside war criminals and dictators. The ICC’s interest could help improve the lives of millions of people and protect critical ecosystems.”

Additionally, the policy paper outlines other crimes that the ICC plans to offer more help to individual states in dealing with so that national prosecutions can take place. Such crimes include weapon and people trafficking, terrorism and financial crimes.

For more information on this story, click the link below to read about it on The Guardian website:


To read the official press release from the Prosecutor, click below:


And to access the full statement by Global Witnesss, click the following link:


Click below to download and read a full copy of the ICC’s Policy Paper on Case Selection and Prioritization:


Image source: www.redcross.org

Text sources:

www.theguardian.com (15th September, 2016)

www.icc-cpi.int (15th September 2016)

www.globalwitness.org (15th September 2016)

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