phase: Preliminary Examinations, Subject Matter Jurisdiction Assessement
The Preliminary Examination of the Situation in Iraq focuses on alleged atrocity crimes committed during an armed conflict which involved international forces (Multinational Force-Iraq (MNF-I), U.S. forces, UK forces), Iraqi government forces, and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic Army in Iraq, and other armed anti-government groups. The armed conflict occurred from March 2003 to July 2009.
In conjunction with its War on Terror and its war against Afghanistan, the U.S. considered a war against Iraq and claimed that the Saddam Hussein-headed government of Iraq had close ties to Al Qaeda, possessed weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological), and sought nuclear weapons. In March 2003, a U.S. and UK-led coalition of forces invaded Iraq. In April 2003, the Saddam Hussein-headed government was ousted. In May 2003, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority assisted in the formation of the Iraqi Governing Council. In June 2004, the Iraqi Governing Council transferred governmental authority to the Iraqi Interim Government. In the course of the conflict, from 2003 to 2009, civilians were killed and injured by international forces, Iraqi government forces, and various armed anti-government groups.
Iraq is not a State Party to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and has not submitted a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting ICC exercise of jurisdiction over Iraq. However, the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over a State Party’s nationals who commit atrocity crimes on the territory of a non-State Party under Article 12(2)(b) of the Rome Statute. On February 2006, after receiving communications of alleged atrocity crimes committed in Iraq and conducting a preliminary examination, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) closed the preliminary examination. On May 13, 2014, after receiving new communications of alleged atrocity crimes committed by UK nationals on the territory of Iraq, the OTP reopened the preliminary examination.
As of November 2016, the preliminary examination of Iraq is in the subject-matter jurisdiction assessment phase. The OTP reported that the OTP “is currently in the process of concluding its comprehensive factual and legal assessment of information available in order to establish whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that alleged crimes committed by United Kingdom nationals . . . fall within the subject-matter jurisdiction of the Court.”
For more information on the preliminary examination in Iraq/UK, please visit the ICC page.