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ICC Assigns Cases On Congo Attrocities

ICC Assigns Cases On Dr Of Congo, Northern Uganda To Pre-Trial Chambers

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has assigned its first two cases - dealing with conflicts in northern Uganda and throughout the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - to its pre-trial chambers to decide on their merits.

The Court's President, Judge Philippe Kirsch, issued the assignments Monday after receiving a letter last month from Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo describing his office's investigations into the two conflicts.

Mr. Moreno Ocampo said his office had informed the Ugandan authorities, concerned about the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), that it must interpret the scope of their referral "consistently with the principles of the Rome Statute," which established the Court. "Hence we are analyzing crimes within the situation of northern Uganda by whomever committed."

The Prosecutor's letter went on to say that his office was still conducting analysis and seeking additional information to support a determination on the situation in northern Uganda.

As for the situation in the DRC, "I have determined that there is a reasonable basis to initiate an investigation," Mr. Moreno Ocampo wrote.

The Hague-based ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, comprises three chambers in its pre-trial division, each composed of one to three judges with predominantly criminal trial experience.

According to the Court's procedures, after receiving information that a crime within the ICC's jurisdiction has been committed, the Prosecutor may seek additional information from various appropriate and reliable sources. However, the pre-trial chamber must agree with the Prosecutor's finding that a case has sufficient merit before authorizing investigations to be conducted.

The ICC was established on 1 July 2002, more than 50 years after the idea of a permanent international war crimes court was widely discussed in connection with the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials of World War II offenders.

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