October 16, 2018

International Criminal Court Prosecutor on Gabon: “The legal criteria for this Court to investigate have not been met”

Fatou Bensouda, International Criminal Court Prosecutor.

On 29 September 2016, I announced the opening of a preliminary examination into the situation in Gabon, based on a referral received from the Government of Gabon with respect to crimes allegedly committed in its territory since May 2016 and potentially falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court . My Office also received several article 15 communications alleging crimes in the context of the 2016 presidential election.

Following a thorough factual and legal analysis of all the information available, I have determined that, at this stage, the legal requirements for opening an investigation into the situation in the Gabonese Republic have not been satisfied.

After carefully weighing the information available against the legal requirements of the Rome Statute, I have concluded that there is no reasonable basis to believe that the acts allegedly committed in Gabon in the context of the 2016 post-election violence, either by members of the opposition or by the Gabonese security forces, constitute crimes against humanity within the meaning of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Nor does the information available provide a reasonable basis to believe that the crime of incitement to genocide was committed during the election campaign. Therefore I have determined that the crimes allegedly committed in the situation in Gabon do not fall within the scope of crimes that the ICC is mandated to investigate and prosecute. Accordingly, I have decided to close this preliminary examination for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. My Office has issued a detailed report presenting and explaining our findings.

My Office based its assessment on the supporting materials and documentation accompanying the referral, article 15 communications, media reports and other information available, which were subjected to rigorous source evaluation. Should new facts or information become available in the future warranting the reconsideration of my Office’s conclusions, the preliminary examination could be re-opened. Under the Rome Statute, the referring State – in this case the Gabonese Republic – also has the right, pursuant to article 53(3)(a) of the Statute, to request the Judges of the ICC to review my decision not to proceed to open an investigation.

I would like to emphasise that this conclusion by no means diminishes the seriousness of the violent acts and human rights violations that appear to have occurred in Gabon in the course of the post-election crisis, nor their impact on the victims. Such alleged abuses ought to be addressed by the competent national authorities, including in the absence of formal complaints.

Noting there have been episodes of election-related violence in Gabon in the recent past, and in light of the upcoming legislative and local elections, I urge all individuals and groups to refrain from acts of violence. This Court may still exercise its jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes that could be committed in Gabon in the future.

My Office will keep a close eye on any outbreak of violence during the upcoming legislative and local elections.

 

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