By Benjamin Duerr*
The ICC Dictionary is a guide for everyone interested in the proceedings in The Hague. It contains almost 200 of the most important terms and concepts with short explanations in alphabetical order. Justice Hub is presenting a selection of some of the terms highlighted by the Dictionary.
Genocide is a category of offenses codified in Article 6 of the Rome Statute. The definition is based on the Genocide Convention. For all offenses to constitute genocide the following requirements are necessary: the perpetrator must have the “intent to destroy in whole or in part” a group. The “intent to destroy” is the factor that distinguishes genocide from other crimes. The definition only covers national, ethnic, racial and religious groups. Therefore, one cannot speak of genocide if, for example, a political group is targeted. Not only murder can amount to genocide. The Rwanda Tribunal found that, for example, rape can be genocide if it is used as a tool to destroy a group. Neither the Genocide Convention nor the Rome Statute define a threshold in terms of the amount of people affected. Therefore genocide is not necessarily mass murder. According to most scholars, killing or hurting at least three people – the minimum amount to constitute a “group” – could amount to genocide if the intent to destroy the whole group can be proved.
In the Genocide Convention, the UN recognised that “genocide is an international crime, which entails the national and international responsibility of persons and states.” It provided the first definition of the crime. The convention was adopted by the General Assembly in 1948.
Grounds of appeal
Both the prosecutor and the convicted person can appeal a decision on grounds of procedural errors, errors of fact or errors of law. A convicted person or the prosecutor on that person’s behalf can also appeal on any other ground “that affects the fairness or reliability of the proceedings or decision.” Article 81 of the Rome Statute regulates the grounds of appeal.
At the beginning of a trial an accused has the possibility to plead guilty – i.e. to formally admit that he committed a crime he or she was charged with. Since this has not happened yet at the ICC, it is not entirely clear how the procedure would look like inpractice.
*Benjamin Duerr is a correspondent and foreign reporter covering the International Criminal Court and the war crimes tribunals in The Hague.