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International Criminal Court; Mali: Agreement on Enforcement of Sentences

(Jan. 25, 2012) The Republic of Mali and the International Criminal Court (ICC), seated in The Hague, signed an agreement on January 12, 2012, on enforcement of ICC sentences of imprisonment. Mali is the first African state to conclude such an agreement with the ICC, which has similar arrangements with the governments of Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, Serbia, and the United Kingdom. (Press Release, ICC-CPI-20120120-PR764, Mali Becomes First African State to Sign an Agreement on the Enforcement of Sentences with the ICC (Jan. 20, 2012).) The text of the agreement has apparently not yet been published and posted online in the ICC's official journal. (For the texts of some of the other enforcement agreements, see Official Journal of the International Criminal Court (last visited Jan. 23, 2012) [scroll down page for agreements with Serbia, Finland, Belgium, UK, Austria].)

Judge Fatoumata Dembele Diarra, First Vice-President of the ICC, who signed the document on the Court's behalf, stated: “[t]he enforcement of sentences is a crucial element of a well-functioning justice system, and the ICC is grateful to every State Party that expresses its willingness to accept persons convicted by the Court.” The Judge added that the agreement “is particularly significant considering the principle enshrined in the Statute and Rules of the ICC that States Parties should share the responsibility for enforcing sentences of imprisonment, in accordance with principles of equitable geographical distribution.” (Press Release, supra.)

Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, Mali's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, called his country's signing of the agreement “an ideal means of conveying Mali's determination to honour the commitments it made by signing and ratifying the Rome Statute,” as well as “a modest, symbolic contribution from Mali to assist the Court in best serving its mandate, in particular in the fight against impunity for international crimes the world over.” (Id.)

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the legal document on which the ICC is based, stipulates that “[a] sentence of imprisonment shall be served in a State designated by the Court from a list of States which have indicated to the Court their willingness to accept sentenced persons.” (Rome Statute, A/CONF.183/9 (adopted on July 17, 1998, in force on July 1, 2002), art. 103(1)(a), ICC website.) The Rome Statute provides that upon declaring such willingness, “a State may attach conditions to its acceptance as agreed by the Court and in accordance with this Part” [Part 10, on enforcement] (id. art 103(1)(b)), and that “[a] State designated in a particular case shall promptly inform the Court whether it accepts the Court's designation” (id. art 103(1)(c)).

According to an article published by the University of Pittsburgh School of Law's legal news service Jurist, “[t]he ICC has been heavily involved in prosecuting crimes against humanity in Africa.” (Michael Haggerson, Mali Becomes First African State to Enforce ICC Sentences, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Jan. 21, 2012).) For example, in December 2011, the article points out, the ICC called for international cooperation “in executing arrest warrants for suspects accused in the Darfur conflict,” and former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was detained and brought before the Court “to face charges of murder, persecution, inhumane acts, and rape and other forms of sexual violence” that were allegedly committed during that country's 2010 post-election violence. (Id.)