Colombia: International Criminal Court orders Prosecutor to justify closing preliminary examination

Press release
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Daniel Munoz / AFP

Paris, 26 July 2022. In a decision published on 22 July 2022, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC rejected a request submitted by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Corporación Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo (CAJAR) on behalf of victims to review and reverse the Prosecutor’s decision to close the preliminary examination of the situation in Colombia. However, the Chamber found that, based on Article 15(6) of the Rome Statute and Rule 49 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Prosecutor does have an “obligation to promptly inform”. This includes informing about the reasons for his decision to close the preliminary examination in Colombia to victims, organisations, or others who provided information during the 17-year preliminary examination.

FIDH and CAJAR hope that Prosecutor Karim A. A. Khan will quickly comply with the order to provide additional details for his decision. At the same time, they regret the ICC’s decision not to review, as they consider that the Prosecutor’s closure of the preliminary examination did not respond to the Colombian reality, in particular the importance of providing justice for international crimes that remain in impunity – some of which have no prospect of being duly prosecuted by the Colombian justice system.

FIDH and CAJAR’s request, submitted on 27 April 2022, asked the Pre-Trial Chamber to review and reverse the Prosecutor’s decision to close the preliminary examination, arguing that the decision did not serve the interests of justice, in particular considering victims’ interests. FIDH and CAJAR, together with victims of crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction, had submitted information regarding these crimes to the Office of the Prosecutor over the course of the preliminary examination, which lasted from June 2004 to October 2021. Therefore, they also requested, in the alternative, that the Prosecutor – at the very least – justify his decision to the victims and the international community by providing a detailed explanation as to why an investigation was not opened in the Colombian case.

In this regard, the Chamber found that the information provided by the Prosecutor in closing the preliminary examination – which was communicated via a press release and a Cooperation Agreement with the Government of Colombia – did not constitute “sufficient information” on the reasons for the closure, in particular “in light of the length of the preliminary examination and the expectations it may have raised for those who provided information prior to, or during the preliminary examination”. On this basis, Pre-Trial Chamber I urged the Prosecutor to promptly provide additional information on the reasons for his decision to close the preliminary examination.

FIDH and CAJAR, on behalf of the victims, remain committed to the fight against impunity and urge the international community to continue monitoring the implementation of transitional justice mechanisms in Colombia, ensuring they respect international standards, guarantee the participation of victims, and move towards investigating and holding to account those most responsible for the crimes committed.

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