ICC Prosecutor looking into possibility of war crimes in Republic of Korea

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

7 December 2010 – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) said today that his Office is looking into whether recent incidents committed in the Republic of Korea constitute war crimes after receiving communications from Korean citizens alleging that to be the case.

“The work to do now is to check if these incidents that they mentioned are war crimes and then if we have jurisdiction,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York, on the sidelines of a meeting of States parties to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

The Republic of Korea has been a State party to the Rome Statute since November 2002. As such, the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide possibly committed on its territory or by its nationals since 1 February 2003, the date on which the Statute entered into force in the Republic of Korea.

According to a news release issued by the Prosecutor’s Office, a preliminary examination has begun into two incidents to determine whether they constitute war crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court.

They are the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on 23 November, which resulted in the killing of South Korean marines and civilians and the injury of many others, and the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, hit by a torpedo allegedly fired from a submarine of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 26 March, resulting in the death of 46 persons.

The Office of the Prosecutor is mandated by the Rome Statute to conduct preliminary examinations for the purpose of determining if the criteria for opening an investigation are met.

Other situations under preliminary examination by the Office include Afghanistan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Georgia, Honduras, Nigeria and Palestine.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo also announced that his Office will be presenting two cases next week related to the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, which is one of five situations currently under investigation by the Prosecutor.

The others are Central African Republic (CAR), Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda.

Mr. Moreno-Ocampo is slated to brief the Security Council later this week on the latest developments in the investigation regarding Darfur.

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