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On the ICC and Syria

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Last week, I wrote a post asking why the International Criminal Court hasn't issued warrants for Bashar al-Assad and other leading regime figures in Syria. After all, action was taken very quickly against Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the ongoing crackdown in Syria is, if anything, more bloody and indiscriminate than the methods deployed by Qaddafi in the early days of the uprising against his regime.

An official at ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo's office emailed me this morning explaining why the two cases are different. As far as the ICC is concerned in the case of Syria its hands are tied. Why? Syria, like Libya (and the United States for that matter), isn't one of the 116 states that have ratified the Rome Statute that governs the court's jurisdiction.

"The only circumstance in which the Prosecutor can open an investigation outside the territory of a State Party is pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution, as has occurred in relation to Darfur and Libya or if the State accepts the jurisdiction of the Court as it happened with Ivory Coast," the ICC representative wrote to me. "The Prosecutor can not even comment on what happens in crimes outside his jurisdiction."

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