Torture Should Be Accounted For

Torture is among the most heinous crimes known to humankind. It should never be excused, it should never go unpunished. It is not about who the tortured are, or what the tortured know. It is not about what they have done, what they believe, or whether they would do the same. It is about who we are, and how human beings should be treated. It is about our humanity, that is all.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Response from the International Criminal Court

Note: Since the letter to the court was from the signees from this site, comprising 129 electronic signatures, I am posting the response here (and will cite it elsewhere) in the belief that it is essentially addressed to us all.

Please notice that the issue is jurisdiction, and that the countries in which the alleged crimes took place can place the matter within the Court's purview by acknowledging its jurisdiction. That would place the onus of bringing this matter to bear at least somewhat on the citizens of those countries, as it has always been on Americans, like myself, who must continue to pressure our own government about our own government's torture abuses. You who frequent this site from other countries, take heed.

Here then is the response from M.P. Dillon, Head of the Information & Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, of the International Criminal Court, in its entirety:

The Hague, Monday, 27 October 2008

Dear Sir, Madam,

On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 8/6/2008 as well as any subsequent information.

As you may know, the International Criminal Court ("the ICC" or "the Court") is governed by the Rome Statute, which entrusts the Court with a very specific and carefully defined jurisdiction and mandate. A fundamental feature of the Rome Statute (Articles 12 and 13) is that the Court may only exercise jurisdiction over international crimes if (i) its jurisdiction has been accepted by the State on the territory of which the crime was committed, (ii) its jurisdiction has been accepted by the State of which the person accused is a national, or (iii) the situation is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

Based on the information currently available, it appears that none of these preconditions are satisfied with respect to the conduct described. Accordingly, as the allegations appear to fall outside the jurisdiction of the Court, the Prosecutor has confirmed that there is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis. The information you have submitted will be maintained in our archives, and the decision not to proceed may be reconsidered if new facts or evidence provide a reasonable basis to believe that the allegations fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. The decision may also be reviewed if there is an acceptance of jurisdiction by the relevant States or a referral from the Security Council.

I hope you will appreciate that with the defined jurisdiction of the Court, many serious allegations will be beyond the reach of this institution to address. I note in this regard that the ICC is designed to complement, not replace national jurisdictions. Thus, if you wish to pursue this matter further, you may consider raising it with appropriate national or international authorities.

I am grateful for your interest in the ICC. If you would like to learn more about the work of the ICC, I invite you to visit our website at

Yours sincerely,

M.P. Dillon


bamage said...


Ché Pasa said...

Several things come to mind:

1) Encouraging our government to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC. Likelihood is slim -- given the fairly extensive and fairly obvious culpability of a wide range of government and military operatives over many years. Will they willingly accept the jurisdiction of Damned Dirty Foreigners?

2) Convincing any federal prosecutor and court to take on the matter. Uh... not likely either. Given the politization of the courts and the US Attorneys during the Bush years, and the apparent disinclination of the Obama people to do anything about it -- at least so far -- we can't expect any federal official or court to pursue these matters.

3) People's Court. If the institutions fail -- as they have -- to pursue justice in such important matters, the People have the perfect right, indeed the duty, to supercede them, and if a functional People's Court were formed and put into operation, there would be little or nothing the institutional courts could do about it. Going the People's Court route is radical, but it may be the only means for those who have been subjected to torture and other war crimes by the American government to gain any justice at all.

Anonymous said...

Ondelette are you familiar with this; I got notified via an email from my Unitarian church: National Day of Witness for a Presidential Executive Order to Ban Torture. The National Day is next Wednesday, November 12, 2008. The goal is to make sure that President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress understand the urgency of ending all U.S. support of torture and to begin rebuilding our nation's moral leadership at home and around the world. at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Holly McLachlan