International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (hereinafter, ICC) is a permanent, universal court, complementary to national criminal jurisdictions, established by the Rome Statute (hereinafter, RS) adopted on 17 July 1998.  Its seat is at The Hague, the Netherlands. Within the conditions set forth in the Statute, the Court has jurisdiction to establish the criminal responsibility of perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In light of the fact that certain provisions of the RS are foreign to Colombia’s legal tradition, in order to become a Party to the RS, Colombia had to amend its Constitution by “Legislative Act”[1] 02 of 2001, which expanded Article 93 of the Constitution in the following terms:

The State of Colombia may recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court as established in the Rome Statute…

The acceptance of treatment of substantive matters under the Rome Statute which is at variance with the guarantees contained in the Constitution shall have effect only within the scope of the matters regulated in the Statute.

On the basis of that constitutional provision, Colombia approved the RS by Law 742 of 2002, which was deemed to be in accordance with the Constitution by the Constitutional Court’s Judgment C-578 of the same year. Colombia ratified the RS on 5 August 2002 Colombia. Colombia is also Party to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the ICC (Law 1180 of 2007), and also incorporated the Rules of Procedure and Evidence as well as the Elements of Crimes of the RS of the ICC (Ley 1268 de 2008). Moreover, on 17 May 2011, during the official visit to Colombia of ICC President, H.E. Song Sang-Hyun, the President of the Republic signed the Agreement on the Enforcement of Sentences between the Republic of Colombia and the ICC, which will be ratified by Colombia as soon as the domestic process to that effect is finalised.

At the time it deposited its instrument of ratification of the RS, Colombia declared, in accordance with Article 124 of the RS, that it suspended its acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction over Colombian nationals for the commission of war crimes, or foreign nationals committing war crimes on Colombian territory, prior to 1 November 2009. As for the other crimes foreseen in the RS, to wit, genocide and crimes against humanity, presumed to have been committed in Colombia or by Colombian nationals, they are subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC as of 1 November 2002.

Colombia has supported the work of the ICC since its inception.  In addition to becoming a Party to, and incorporating the above-mentioned international legal instruments into its domestic law, Colombia has promoted public debate better knowledge of the ICC, has chaired the Group of Friends of the ICC and has made voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV). Ambassador Pizarro currently co-facilitates, along with the Tunisian Ambassador in The Hague (H.E. Mohammed Karim Ben Becher), the topic of “Victims and affected communities and the TFV, including Reparations” within The Hague Working Group of the Assembly of States Parties of the RS. He was also representative of the group of Latin-American and Caribbean States on the Board of Directors of the TFV.  

Preliminary Examination of the Situation in Colombia

The situation in Colombia has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC (hereinafter, OTP) since June 2004. In this regard, in its Interim Report on the situation in Colombia, issued in November 2012, the OTP stated that, thereafter,

…the preliminary examination of the Situation in Colombia will focus on: (i) follow-up on the Legal Framework for Peace and other relevant legislative developments, as well as jurisdictional aspects relating to the emergence of ‘new illegal armed groups;’ (ii) proceedings relating to the promotion and expansion of paramilitary groups; (iii) proceedings relating to forced displacement; (iv) proceedings relating to sexual crimes; and, (v) false positive cases.[2]

According to the latest OTP report on preliminary examination activities[3], the focus areas identified in their Interim Report of November 2012 are still those of interest for that Office with regard to the situation in Colombia.  The 21013 activities report states that,

152. During the coming year [2014], the Office will continue to analyse the progress of these national proceedings – as well as those relating to the other areas of focus identified in the Interim Report – and will continue to analyse their relevance and genuineness in order to reach determinations on admissibility. The Office will also continue to analyse the implementation of the LFP and the MJR in order to assess their impact on the conduct of national proceedings relating to crimes under ICC jurisdiction. The Office will continue to consult closely with the Colombian authorities with a view to ensuring that genuine national proceedings are carried out against those most responsible for the most serious crimes[4].

The two referred-to reports are available at:   

2012 ICC OTP – Situation in Colombia – Interim Report

2013 ICC OTP – Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2013

[1] En la tradición constitucional colombiana, un Acto Legislativo es una norma expedida por el Congreso de la República que tiene por objeto modificar, reformar, adicionar o derogar textos de carácter constitucional. Esta facultad está consagrada en la misma Constitución y en el Reglamento del Congreso (Ley 5 de 1992). En términos generales, el procedimiento para la aprobación de uno de estos Actos es más exigente que para expedir una Ley. Mientras que una Ley normal debe surtir 4 debates, los Actos Legislativos deben pasar 8.

[2] International Criminal Court. The Office of the Prosecutor, Situation in Colombia. Interim Report -November 2012, paras. 22 (Exec. Summary) and 224.

[3] International Criminal Court. The Office of the Prosecutor, Report on Preliminary Examination Activities 2013, November 2013, paras. 118-152.

[4] Ibid., para 152.


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