Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

On 30 June, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute, a cross-party, cross-committee group of MEPs, visited the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

The delegation, comprising members of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) and the chairs of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) and the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), held meetings with top International Criminal Court (ICC) officials, including President Judge Piotr Hofmanski, Prosecutor Karim A.A Khan and Registrar Peter Lewis. MEPs addressed the crucial role of the ICC in the international legal order and the Court’s growing workload and resource needs in the fight against impunity.

During their visit, the delegation stressed there can be no efficient response for victims without coordination and cooperation between the ICC, national authorities and regional organisations. Parliamentarians took particular note of the important work done by the Trust Fund for Victims and the Fund’s dramatically increasing need for support. The delegation was also given an overview of the Court’s ongoing caseload in different countries and MEPs discussed with the ICC officials issues that were of great interest to the subcommittee’s members (the fight against impunity, the crime of aggression, and the issue of universal jurisdiction).

“Parliament has always advocated for a victims-centred approach to international justice, where people can be supported and protected, and that reparative justice is administered with sufficient support, including the necessary financial resources,” said the DROI Chair Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium).

MEPs expressed continued EU support for the ICC – support which remains financial, moral and political, especially when the independence of the Court has been threatened.

“Only with an appropriate budget will prosecutors and investigators be able to gather evidence and prosecute perpetrators,” stressed the Chair of the JURI committee Adrián Vázquez Lázara (Renew Europe, Spain).

Throughout their interactions with ICC officials, MEPs underlined the key role the EU, its member states and like-minded partners play in upholding the universality and the indivisibility of human rights in globally challenging times. Interlocutors agreed that parliamentarians have a particularly important task in advocating for the ICC. They further stressed the importance of engaging beyond like-minded countries.

“The International Criminal Court is a pillar of the rule of law, which must be the shared foundation of the rules-based international community,” said the LIBE Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, Spain).

DROI Chair Maria Arena said:

“The fight against impunity, and advocating for accountability in matters of serious international crimes, is at the heart of DROI’s daily work. This visit could not be more timely – the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute coincides with uncertainty and tragedies unfolding across the globe, and with them egregious and profound suffering, including a war in Europe. At the same time, the interest in the role of the ICC has increased within the international community and we must not miss this momentum in the search for global justice. This is a reason for hope in the fight against impunity.”

JURI Chair Adrián Vázquez Lázara said:

“The JURI committee firmly supports the work of the ICC to hold those responsible of atrocities accountable and to protect and assist their victims. The committee will closely monitor developments in the international legal system in order to avoid any backsliding by countries wishing to avoid responsibility for human rights breaches. The ICC can be assured that the European Parliament will continue to live up to its values and keep providing moral, political and financial support to the Court to ensure that it is able to fulfil its duties quickly and comprehensively.”

LIBE Chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar said:

“The LIBE committee, along with the whole of Parliament, is a vocal supporter of the ICC and is taking very practical steps to offer it assistance, such as recently adopting additional prerogatives for Eurojust to be able to help to collect and store evidence for offences in the ICC’s remit, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. We will continue to promote the cause of the Court and continue to monitor issues like EU funding for the Trust Fund for the Victims and witness protection.”

Additional information

The delegation was chaired by the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Maria Arena and also included the Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Juan Fernando López Aguilar and the Chair of the Committee on Legal Affairs, Adrián Vázquez Lázara, together with MEPs Stelios Kympouropoulos (EPP, Greece), Isabel Santos (S&D, Portugal), Petras Auštrevičius (Renew Europe, Lithuania), Mounir Satouri (The Greens/EFA, France) and Malin Björk (The Left, Sweden).

Further information

Source – EU Parliament