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ICC should increase efforts to bring war criminals to justice: HRW

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [press release] the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] on Monday to improve its impact and stimulate cooperation amongst the international community as the court enters its second decade. HRW not only emphasized the importance for ICC member countries to strengthen their efforts in making arrests of known suspects harbored within their borders, but also called upon the ICC to establish a stronger dialogue with the UN Security Council [official website] in order to facilitate arrests and prosecutions. According to HRW, the difficulty with generating arrests stems from procedural issues as well as political pressure brought against member countries and the UN Security Council. While the ICC must depend on member votes or referrals in order to initiate criminal proceedings, the Security Council may also refer cases to the ICC, but has been apprehensive in doing so due to, what the International Relations and Security Network [official website] refers [ISN article] to as, a constant struggle of "peace versus justice." HRW describes the civil unrest and violence in Syria as an example of a situation in need of accountability yet lacking in international response. Elizabeth Evenson, senior international justice counsel for HRW, was quick to point out that the ICC "has stumbled in getting the job done" while acknowledging the court's progress over the previous decade.

The ICC recorded its first conviction in March 2012 in a case that not only sent Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [JURIST report] to prison for his use of child soldiers, but also helped the court establish its guiding principles for providing reparations to victims. However, to the dismay of many, individuals such as Joseph Kony [JURIST news archive] of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army and Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda [JURIST report] remain at large. Currently, the ICC has opened investigations in the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, the Darfur region of Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Libya, and northern Uganda with 13 pending cases against 21 individuals from those countries.

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