[JURIST] International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official websites] told reporters Thursday that the ICC has opened preliminary investigations in Honduras and Nigeria. The Honduras investigation [Reuters report] will focus on the June 2009 coup [JURIST report] that removed Manuel Zeleya [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] from power. Moreno-Ocampo did not elaborate on the Nigeria investigation. Following a preliminary investigation, Article 15 of the Rome Statute [text, PDF] requires the prosecutor to submit his findings to the ICC’s pre-trial chamber if he believes there is a reasonable basis to proceed with a formal investigation. If the pre-trial chamber agrees that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation and finds it likely that the ICC has jurisdiction, it will authorize Moreno-Ocampo’s office to conduct such an investigation.
In July, a Honduran court dismissed abuse of power charges against Zeleya because Zelaya’s successor granted amnesty [JURIST reports] to Zeleya and those involved in his removal. In June, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] accused the Honduran government [JURIST report] of failing to address human rights violations stemming from the June 2009 coup. AI contends that hundreds of people opposed to the coup have been beaten and detained. The group cited evidence that judges critical of the coup have “suffered a series of arbitrary transferrals and unfair disciplinary proceedings” as well as threats and intimidation. The interim government has been attempting to restore Honduras’s reputation internationally. In May, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] announced that Honduras dropped proceedings against Brazil [JURIST report] brought by the Honduran interim government last October in response to the sheltering of Zelaya.