Even though Thailand is not presently a party to the statute of the ICC, Thailand may become a party in the future and the ICC would certainly have jurisdiction over Thai nationals then. Crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. It is also important to note that the ICC can also exercise jurisdiction over nationals of a nonstate party to its statute once the United Nations Security Council has referred the case to it. The case in point is the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
Leaving the ICC aside, Abhisit will also have to be mindful of the doctrine of universal jurisdiction. This is a doctrine under international law that enables any national court, in any country in the world, to claim criminal jurisdiction to prosecute a person whose alleged crimes, such as crimes against humanity, were committed outside the territory of the prosecuting country, regardless of the person’s nationality or country of residence.
Consider, for example: On Dec. 14, 2009, a British court issued an arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni for Israeli action against the Palestinians in Gaza. Spanish courts have pursued the former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet for the alleged crimes of humanity he had committed against Chileans in Chile.
For the rest of his life, Abhisit may have to think twice before he travels abroad. A holiday visit to his alma mater, Oxford University, may become out of reach for him.
On May 13, the Asian Centre for Human Rights warned Abhisit of his individual criminal responsibility regarding the use of force against civilian protesters in Thailand.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, I call on you to decisively and magnanimously put an abrupt stop to Thailand’s free fall into the abyss. The situation in Thailand is very bad, but it can get much worse. Now is the time to put a decisive end to the killings. Now is the time to put an end to the use of force against civilians.