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POST WRITTEN BY: Lissa Griffin, Professor at Pace Law School & Rafael Wolff, Federal Judge in Brazil and SJD candidate at Pace Law School.

A recent editorial and recent articles in The New York Times address the growing use of undercover agents and their necessarily deceptive practices. The New York Times now reports that the use of undercover operations has expanded “with officers from at least 40 agencies posing as business people, welfare recipients, political protesters and even doctors or ministers to ferret out wrongdoing….” The justification is the efficiency and cost-savings over traditional investigation through tips, legwork, interviews, search warrants, and surveillance. No probable cause or search warrant is required.

Is such widespread deception part of our culture?

Maybe it’s just one of the choices we have to make given our Constitution. Our historic fear of centralized authority and the accompanying protection of the individual against government intrusion makes some other more overt investigatory techniques unavailable to us. Thus, for example, in the United Kingdom, recent terrorist legislation improved the Government’s ability to investigate and prevent terrorism by extending the permissible periods of pre-charge detention. Imminent terrorist events may now be averted by simply breaking up the terrorism groups, and enhanced questioning can be accomplished early on. Our bill of rights would prevent that. Thus, instead of investigating overtly, we investigate by deception.

Up until now, rules and guidelines have been inadequate. Now, apparently in response to the “Fast and Furious” undercover operation that allowed guns to travel to Mexico, the Department of Justice has  issued internal guidelines designed to “tighten oversight” of undercover operations. Before prosecutors approve of using undercover investigation, they must consider “whether an operation identifies a ‘clearly’ defined objective, whether it is truly necessary, whether it targets ‘significant criminal actors or entities,’ and other factors.” This is good.

So, does Brazil tolerate as much deception as the United States?  Our conclusion remains that Brazil’s statutory limits restrict deception and protect privacy to a much greater extent than do the US due process clause or recent agency guidelines.  Considering the efficiency of undercover operations, but considering the risks to third party privacy and even to the agent’s security, maybe Brazil needs to use more, and the United States less, of this particularly interesting investigative tool.

These articles raise questions about the scope of undercover investigations and about fair investigative tactics by government agents. An instructive comparison can be made between limits on undercover activity in the United States and in another country, for example, Brazil.

In Brazil, the use of undercover agents requires a judicial warrant authorizing the infiltration of a criminal organization. This is expressly stated by Law 11.343/06 (Article 53, I) and Law 12.850/13 (Article 10). A judge may only issue such a warrant if the government establishes: 1) evidence of organized criminal activities or narcotics offenses; and 2) it is impossible to produce the evidence by another less intrusive way (Law 12.850/13, Article 10). Those are both federal laws, as just the Federal Congress can legislate about criminal procedure. Organized criminal activity occurs when there is a criminal organization of four or more individuals that functions in a structured way and with a division of tasks, even informally, to obtain direct or indirect criminal advantage. To be considered a criminal organization, the activity should be punishable by a maximum prison sentence of more than four years. Law 12.850/12 also allows the use of undercover agents and other special investigative tools in case of transnational crime which Brazil is internationally obliged to eradicate (for sure, when the crime occurs in Brazilian soil) and transnational terrorist groups recognized by international organizations in which Brazil is a member.

The use of undercover agents is also legal in the investigation of crimes created by Law 11.343/06, that is, in investigations into narcotics crimes. This category was included by the legislature because of the considerable risk of danger in the organized narcotics business.

In addition, Law 12.850/13 requires that the conduct of the undercover agent be proportional to the goal  of the operation and provides that the agent will be criminally culpable for any excess (art. 13). The same article makes clear that the agent will not be liable if it was not reasonable to act differently in the case.  The legislation is very vague, however, leaving it to the court to fix the limits in the warrant.  For example, it will be the judge who, based on the values prescribed by the Constitution and statutes, will have to decide if it is reasonable to allow an agent to send child porn pictures during an investigation.  This is not an easy call, especially since there is no consistent case law about it.

However, interestingly, Brazil defines “undercover operations” much more narrowly than does the United States so that these strict requirements only apply to certain undercover conduct.  Brazilian statutes (Laws 11.343/06 and 12.850/13) use the term “infiltrated agent” to define the regulated investigative activity, not “undercover agent.”  Thus, the definition only applies to those operations that involve agents assuming false identities to infiltrate criminal organizations. The use of plain clothes officers to buy drugs without the use of a false identification would not be regulated by the statute. In such cases, the need for a warrant is not even discussed in the case law. (STJ, AgRg no AREsp 1.956/SP, Rel. Ministra MARIA THEREZA DE ASSIS MOURA, SEXTA TURMA, julgado em 21/06/2011, DJe 01/07/2011). Thus, the kind of conduct reported in The Times, for example –  the presence of a police officer in the middle of a political protest –  would not be considered conduct by an “infiltrated agent,” as long as a false identity is not used to allow infiltration in a criminal organization. On the other hand, an officer who pretends to be a child to uncover a criminal organization involving pedophilia in the internet, for example, would indeed be subject to the warrant requirement.

From the defense perspective, there is protection against entrapment (article 17 of the Brazilian Criminal Code). For example, a defendant will not be liable for possessing a child porn photo sent by an undercover agent if the court finds the defendant was entrapped. However, this defense will not protect the Defendant if he possesses other photos, for example.

In the United States, of course, police and prosecutorial use of undercover agents is limited only by the broad and permissive boundaries of the due process clause. SeeUnited States v. Cuervelo, 949 F.2d 559 (2d Cir. 1991). Unlike Brazil, in the United States there is no requirement of a warrant or of judicial supervision of any kind regarding undercover agents. In fact, the Supreme Court has made clear that the use of undercover agents – even when the agent wears a wire – does not constitute a “search” under the Fourth Amendment. Lopez v. United States, 373 U.S. 427 (1963); On Lee v. United States, 343 U.S. 747 (1952); Hoffa v. United States, 385 U.S. 293 (1966); and United States v. White, 401 U.S. 745 (1971). As the Court has reasoned, betrayal by ones associates is always a risk, so there is  no  expectation of privacy in those interactions if they involve an undercover agent. Given that there is no “search,” there is no warrant requirement or a requirement even of probable cause or reasonable suspicion to use undercover agents to obtain evidence. Nor are there any statutory limits to the practice. The only limitation is whether an undercover officer’s behavior “shocks the conscience” of the court. Readers will remember the stomach-pumping case that actually did shock the conscience of the Supreme Court. Rochin v. California, 342 U.S. 165 (1952).

The Sixth Amendment right to counsel, which attaches after arraignment, may limit the use of undercover agents – but only after charges have been brought and the defendant has been arraigned. That is because, under Massiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (1964), and its progeny, law enforcement may not contact a defendant without going through defense counsel.

In the United States, now, there is not likely to be a consensus for restricting the use of undercover agents, although the discussion of this issue in the press is interesting. New York Times reports that the use of undercover agents is widening and now extends anywhere from sending fake protesters to demonstrations in front of the Supreme Court to creating false identities for doctors and ministers to investigate welfare or other fraud. Until now, at least, we have balanced our interests in privacy, our separation-of-powers-based willingness to give our prosecutors and police tremendous discretion in law enforcement, and our desire for crime control in favor of discretion and crime control. Brazil’s restriction of undercover intrusions to cases involving organized crime, narcotics, terrorism and other transnational crimes that are the object of international treaties – to seriously dangerous organizational criminal behavior that is – should command our attention. Maybe we should tailor the intrusion to protect against serious criminal conduct while protecting the increasingly shrinking sphere of privacy for the rest of us. Certainly, Brazil’s requirement of a showing that there is no less intrusive means to secure the evidence sought should not be a seriously difficult evidential burden. Given the U.S. courts’ willingness to impose only the most nominal restrictions, the way to do this, of course, would be the way Brazil accomplished it – through legislation.

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POST WRITTEN BY: Prof. Peter Widulski, Assistant Director of the First Year Legal Skills Program and the Coach of International Criminal Moot Court Team at Pace Law School.

On December 10 and 11, 2014, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued decisions calling for delivery to the ICC of two persons under its arrest warrants.

The December 10 finding of non-compliance by Libya, under article 87(7), relates to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, for whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant in May 2011, charging him with crimes against humanity allegedly committed by Libyan security forces under his command during anti-government protests. The December 11 decision on the admissibility relates to Simone Gbagbo, for whom the ICC issued an arrest warrant in February 2012, charging her with responsibility for crimes against humanity regarding violence committed by government forces against political opponents of her husband, former President Laurent Gbagbo, relating to the November 2010 Ivory Coast presidential election.

Ivory Coast was asserting its right under Rome Statute articles 17 and 19 to challenge the admissibility of Simone Gbagbo’s case on the ground that it was prosecuting her for the same crimes charged in the ICC arrest warrant. In the Gaddafi case, ICC courts had previously rejected Libya’s challenge to the admissibility of the ICC case against him and reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender him to the Court. Libya is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, but in February 2011 the U.N. Security Council acting under its Chapter VII powers issued a Resolution 1970 referring the Libyan situation to the Court and requiring Libyan authorities to fully cooperate with the ICC. The issue before the Court was whether Libya failed to comply with this obligation.

In the Ivory Coast situation, as blogged about earlier, the ICC issued arrest warrants against Ivory Coast nationals Laurent Gbagbo, Simone Gbagbo, and Charles Blé Goudé – all on the same charges relating to the same events. The Ivory Coast government chose to surrender Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé to the ICC, but not Simone Gbagbo. The government’s reasons for this selection are not fully apparent from court documents. Nevertheless, the Ivory Coast decided to challenge the admissibility of Simone Gbagbo’s case. The Court rejected this challenge, finding that the Ivory Coast government failed to show that it was investigating and prosecuting Gbagbo for the same criminal conduct alleged by the ICC Prosecutor. The Court concluded that Ivory Coast must “surrender Simone Gbagbo to the Court without delay.”

With respect to the Gaddafi case, the Court found that Libya failed to comply with repeated requests to deliver Gaddafi to the Court and also failed to comply with requests to return to the Defense privileged documents that Libyan authorities had seized from Gaddafi’s defense counsel. Determining that Libya was depriving the defendant of his rights and preventing the Court from fulfilling its mandate, the Court, under article 87(7), referred the matter to the Security Council, so that the Council may consider measures to secure Libya’s compliance.

ICC had previously utilized article 87(7) to inform the Security Council of the failure of authorities in Chad, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to arrest and surrender Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, for whom ICC issued arrest warrants charging him with responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, committed during the conflict in Darfur. Al-Bashir remains at large.

In the week preceding the Gaddafi finding, the Trial Chamber V(B) rendered Decision on Prosecution’s application for a finding of non-compliance under article 87(7) stating that the Government of Kenya, a State Party to the Rome Statute, had breached its treaty obligation by failing to provide the Prosecutor with access to information necessary for the case against Kenyan President Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity committed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. As a result of Kenya’s breach, ICC Prosecutor Bensouda withdrew the charges against Kenyatta without prejudice. In a December 5, 2014 press release, Bensouda stated that this was “a painful moment for the men, women and children who have suffered tremendously from the horrors of the post-election violence, and who have waited, patiently, for almost seven years to see justice done.”

The Kenyatta, al-Bashir, Gaddafi, and Simone Gbagbo cases illustrate the difficulties the ICC confronts in carrying out its responsibilities to prosecute grave international crimes.

POST WRITTEN BY: Prof. Peter Widulski, Assistant Director of the First Year Legal Skills Program and the Coach of International Criminal Moot Court Team at Pace Law School.

On November 12, 2014, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda presented the U.N. Security Council with a report on “the deteriorating situation” in Libya, calling the Council’s attention to several disturbing matters that the OTP is confronting in its work in Libya.

The Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC in 2011, pursuant to the authority accorded to it by Article 13(b) of the Rome Statute and by Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter. This was the second time the Council referred a situation of violent internal conflict to the ICC; the first time was in 2005, with respect to the violence in Darfur, Sudan. The ICC Prosecutor has been pursuing cases against several suspects in both of these situations.

In both, the ICC has encountered severe difficulties in carrying out its responsibilities. With respect to the Darfur situation, four of the suspects subject to ICC arrest warrants remain at large. As noted here, earlier this year the Prosecutor asked the Council for further assistance in dealing with the failure of several countries to execute the ICC arrest warrant for Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. As noted here, in April 2014 the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber issued a rebuke to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for failing to arrest al-Bashir when the Chamber, having advance notice of al-Bashir’s visit to the DRC, issued a request to the DRC for his arrest. The DRC is a State Party to the Rome Statute; Article 86 of the Statute requires that “State Parties shall … cooperate fully with the Court in its investigation and prosecution of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.”

With respect to the Libya situation, Prosecutor Bensouda advised that despite elections in Libya in June 2014, political instability is increasing as two governments vie for legitimacy. She also noted that there have been several assassinations and numerous threats made against human rights workers, judges, prosecutors, and others. She reported that the deteriorating security situation in the country is making it very difficult for her Office to pursue its work, including, among other matters, the Office’s ability to investigate “new instances of mass crimes allegedly committed by the rebel forces.”

The Prosecutor expressed her Office’s “great concern” regarding “the continued failure of the Government of Libya to surrender Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the custody of the International Criminal Court.” On June 27, 2011, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi on two counts of crimes against humanity but he remains at large. Regarding Abdullah Al-Senussi, whom the ICC previously sought for prosecution, the Prosecutor stated that because of the on-going violence in Libya that may endanger the possibility of a fair trial for Al-Senussi, she may apply for review of decisions by ICC courts deferring to Libya’s prosecution of him.

Prosecutor Bensouda called upon Libya for cooperation, and she stated that “the international community could be more proactive in exploring solutions in order to tangibly help restore stability and strengthen accountability for Rome Statute crimes in Libya.”

The Prosecutor’s October 23 and November 12 statements to the Security Council suggest that ICC prosecutions of cases following a Security Council referral are encountering difficulties that go beyond those encountered by prosecutors authorized to prosecute cases in the ad hoc tribunals established through Security Council resolutions prior to the Rome Statute’s entry into force in 2002. If the ICC is to be able to carry out its responsibilities – especially with regard to Security Council referrals – the Prosecutor seems to be correct that additional support for the ICC will be needed from the Security Council, from States affected, and from the international community in general.

On December 5, 2014, as part of the HuffPost Live, Pace Professor of Law and Director of the Pace Criminal Justice Institute Lissa Griffin joined Roger Fairfax, Professor of Law at George Washington University, and the host Josh Zepps for a live discussion about the role and function of grand juries in the US justice system. Josh Zepps introduces the segment by saying that

[i]n the span of two weeks, two grand juries have failed to indict cops involved in the death of unarmed black men. Most counties don’t even have grand juries. Why do we? How do they work? And what can be done to fix our flawed legal system?

The two guests explain what grand jury is, how it operates, how it decides to indict, the role of the prosecutor during grand jury proceedings, and the lack of judicial involvement during this stage. The discussion further progressed to consider comparative perspectives, including the French, German, and English indictment procedures.



The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has been in the media forefront since the tragic shooting in August 2014 but it gained new traction recently when the Ferguson Grand Jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson. Traditionally, a grand jury hearing is a one-sided presentation of the facts and evidence by the prosecutor. Not here, however: District Attorney Robert McCulloch decided to let the grand jury hear all the evidence, including a narrative statement by the target. Why? Take a moment to explore this question and read Reflecting on the Ferguson Grand Jury by Joel Cohen & Bennett L. Gershman.

The central irony in this case is that the familiar abuses in the grand jury process typically occur when prosecutors refuse to present all of the evidence and, indeed, hide evidence that might have led a grand jury to refuse to indict – to vote a “no true bill.” What is particularly odd about the Ferguson Grand Jury presentation is the complaint that by his decision to present all of the evidence, McCulloch actually dis-served the prosecution. Why did McCulloch take these steps? We do not know, and we are likely never to know.

POST WRITTEN BY: Danielle Petretta (J.D. ’17), Pace Law School

On November 18, 2014, the Criminal Justice Society, Criminal Justice Institute and Alumni Relations Office at Pace hosted Know Your Rights symposium. This event was created by Pace Criminal Justice Clinic students under the leadership of Professor David N. Dorfman.

Students were broken into groups, and each group participated in various skits demonstrating the appropriate responses during police street stops, stop and frisks, car searches, cell phone searches and more. While extremely amusing, the skits were followed by an important presentations during which students addressed legal issues involved in each of the skits. One of the problems is that many people do not know their rights and the available appropriate responses. The students’ skits conveyed the importance of being an informed citizen.

Think of some of the following statements and ask yourself if you know the answer:

  • Did you know that if a police officer approaches and asks you general questions, in a non-accusing manner, and you do not wish to answer, you can choose not to answer and walk away? (though doing so requires a level of courtesy)
  • Did you know that you do not have to consent to a car search without a warrant if a police officer stops your car, and that 80% of people only consent because they are uninformed of their right to refuse? (assuming that the officer does not have probable cause such as seeing drugs or firearms)
  • Did you know that cell phones cannot be searched incident to arrest without search warrant that is signed by a judge?

These are few of the questions that plague our justice system on a daily basis, which is why it is important to be aware of our rights, especially as young students in the midst of a technological revolution.

It is no secret that we live in an era where technology is rapidly changing. However, the law has not yet reached the 21st century, so there are many unsettled situation. In the meantime, our court systems battle these complex issues on a daily basis that arise with the advent of new technology. Think about the issues regarding cell phones searches, GPS devices, computers, social media, etc…. How is the law to handle the use of technology and searches while not infringing on person’s expectation of privacy? This is where the difficulty lies. We know that during a car stop, a police officer is allowed to search whatever is in plain view. On the other hand, what is the protocol for searching a computer that is left open and unattended? A cell phone that is seized? Can information found on social media websites be used against a person, and if so, how? What if the social media site is set to private? Do levels of privacy differ on the Internet? Should the same procedures currently applied in searches of cars, houses or people be applied to technology? These are some of the questions presenting much difficulty in articulating new laws.

For now, Riley v. California, decided just this year, is the only precedent we have regarding cellphone searches incident to arrest. An officer may seize a cell phone from an individual after his/her arrest, but may not open the phone or search through the phone without a valid search warrant. Here is an interesting excerpt from the Supreme Court decision: “Cell phones differ in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense from other objects that might be carried on an arrestee’s person. Notably, modern cell phones have an immense storage capacity. Before cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and generally constituted only a narrow intrusion on privacy. But cell phones can store millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures, or hundreds of videos” Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct 2473, 2478 (2014). It is clear that new law is warranted, but it must be balanced against our expectation of privacy.

The Know Your Rights event was an eye opener. It would be interesting to see how this event can be incorporated into the public or in other schools, perhaps even high schools. I think it would be an extremely informative and fun experience for young adults to become informed about what is unfolding around them. Personally, I was made aware of the consequences of the technology that we as a society have become so obsessed with and reliant on, while also realizing that the courts face a huge task of creating new laws addressing these new issues. I would urge everyone to become informed not only as to their own rights but also about what is currently being debated in our courts, because we will be the ones who will become affected in the future by the laws that are being created at this moment.

For your convenience, take a moment to begin and read the Know Your Rights! Top Ten Takeaways compiled by Professor David N. Dorfman.

POST WRITTEN BY: Prof. Peter Widulski, Assistant Director of the First Year Legal Skills Program and the Coach of International Criminal Moot Court Team at Pace Law School.

On November 19, 2014, the Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in four cases, two of which presented criminal procedure issues relating to whether a defendant can employ a post-verdict, pre-sentence CPL § 330.30 motion to raise issues based on facts not discovered until after the verdict was rendered and have such facts considered as part of the record for purposes of direct appeal. In response to probing questions from the Court, all attorneys involved made forceful and well-informed arguments.

The November 19 arguments were the last that Judge Robert Smith will hear prior to his retirement from the Court. In accord with Court of Appeals tradition, at the conclusion of the arguments the other members of the Court rose and applauded Judge Smith. Chief Judge Lippman expressed his thanks and admiration to Judge Smith for his dedicated service to the Court before an audience that included the Judge’s family and virtually all members of the Court staff.

One of the most important legacies of Judge Smith’s tenure regarding criminal justice issues is the strong and thoughtful stance he took in many cases to curb prosecutors’ unfounded employment of a depraved indifference murder charge pursuant to N.Y. Penal Law § 125.25(2).  Section 125.25(2) provides for a second degree murder charge in cases where a defendant, without intent, causes the death of another person “[u]nder circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life [when the defendant] engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death ….”

Dissenting in a case in which the Court majority upheld three depraved indifference murder convictions, Judge Smith stated that

experience shows that juries, especially in cases with inflammatory facts, will often find depraved indifference where the evidence does not support it, and as a result we have reversed many convictions in recent years because the proof of this mens rea was insufficient.

In the cases in question, Judge Smith found that the facts showed at most a basis for conviction on a lesser charge of second degree manslaughter. He cautioned the majority that its affirmance of the murder convictions “departs from the rigor we have previously shown [in depraved indifference murder appeals] and makes it more difficult to attain our long-sought goal of reserving convictions of this crime for the very few cases that warrant them.”

This writer was one of the clerks employed by Judge Smith when he took the bench in January 2004. After oral arguments one day during the winter of 2004, my co-clerks and I met with the Judge to discuss that day’s oral arguments. In a criminal appeal argued that day, when the Court pressed the defense attorney on a secondary argument he made for his client, the attorney responded in a sheepish way and declined to pursue that argument. Judge Smith asked us what we thought about this: he wanted to convey that the attorney’s response was unacceptable. He told us that the attorney had a basis to support this argument and that he should have presented it, prefacing his argument by saying: “It is my responsibility to fight for my client’s liberty with everything I have.”

Cases:

  • People v. Heidgen, 3 N.E.3d 657 (N.Y. 2013) (Smith, J., dissenting)

The prosecutor in the Michael Morton case in Texas, in which the defendant was exonerated, has pled guilty to criminal contempt for intentional non-disclosure of exculpatory evidence and will give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and serve 10 days in jail.  Among the withheld evidence was the account of an eyewitness, the defendant’s son, who said he was not the murderer.

No matter what one’s views are on this unprecedented event, it should raise consciousness about the risk of withholding substantial exculpatory evidence and risking the conviction of an innocent person.

KnowYourRighsFall2014The Pace Criminal Justice Society (CJS), the Pace Criminal Justice Institute (PCJI) and the Pace Alumni Relations Office are co-hosting an event titled Know Your Rights on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 at 4:30-5:30 PM in the Preston Hall Tudor Room during which our Criminal Justice Clinic Students under the leadership of Prof. David N. Dorfman will explore the appropriate responses to and the underlying issues that arise from police car stops, street stops, cell phone searches and more. Immediately after this event, the Annual Criminal Practice Networking Reception will take place at 5:30-6:30 PM in the Student Lounge, across the hall from the event, during which alumni, local prosecutors and defense counsel are invited to learn about the resources of the Pace Criminal Justice Institute, meet with other criminal law practitioners, and get to know and talk with students interested in pursuing a career in criminal practice.

POST WRITTEN BY: Prof. Peter Widulski, Assistant Director of the First Year Legal Skills Program and the Coach of International Criminal Moot Court Team at Pace Law School.

As reported in the October 24, 2014 press release, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, on October 23, 2014, addressed the United Nations Security Council on ways the Council can provide more effective support to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The relationship between the ICC and the Security Council, which the Prosecutor addressed, has important implications for the ICC’s goal to end impunity for grave international crimes. Unlike the International Court of Justice, which was established in 1945 by the U.N. Charter as the U.N.’s principal judicial organ, the International Criminal Court is a judicial body independent of the U.N. The ICC was established through a separate treaty – the Rome Statute that entered into force in 2002 – with different jurisdictional predicates focusing on prosecution of individuals alleged to have committed grave crimes of an internationally recognized nature that are within the ICC’s subject matter jurisdiction.

Despite the ICC’s independent status, the Preamble of the Rome Statute “reaffirm[s] the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations [which require] that all States shall refrain [from acting with force] in any … manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” In addition, Article 13(b) of the Statute accords the Council the capability to refer to the Court for criminal investigation matters the Council deems appropriate pursuant to its responsibility under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter “to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Article 13(b) provides the Council with the opportunity for the first time to invoke its Chapter VII authority to initiate criminal investigations before a standing international criminal court. Before the ICC’s establishment, the Council, when confronted with situations in which severe crimes threatening international peace occurred, had to provide for both investigation and prosecution through special resolutions and particularly crafted statutes that created ad hoc tribunals, such as those for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.

The authority accorded to the Council by Article 13(b) is powerful and important because it authorizes the Council to refer to the ICC Prosecutor investigation of crimes within the ICC’s subject matter jurisdiction where the ICC’s other jurisdictional predicates would otherwise be lacking. The Council can refer to the ICC Prosecutor investigation of crimes in situations even when the alleged crimes do not occur on the territory of a State Party to the Rome Statute or were not committed by a national of a State Party.

The Security Council has utilized its Article 13(b) authority thus far to refer two situations to the ICC: Darfur, Sudan (2005) and Libya (2011). The ICC Prosecutor has been actively pursuing cases in both of these situations.

Following the Council’s Sudan referral, an ICC court issued arrest warrants for Sudanese president Omar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir in March 2009 and again in July 2010, charging him with co-perpetrator responsibility on multiple counts alleging crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide relating to the bloody conflict in Sudan.

Several African States have declined to execute these warrants when Al Bashir traveled to these States for diplomatic purposes. As reported previously on this blog, in April of this year an ICC Pre-Trial Chamber chastised the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for failing to comply with ICC requests for Al Bashir’s arrest when in February 2014, he visited the DRC to participate in a summit conference of African leaders.

In her October 23 address to the Council and during the discussion that followed, Prosecutor Bensouda gave prominent attention to issues relating to the Darfur situation. She called on the Council, when issuing its Article 13(b) referrals, to advise States of their cooperation responsibilities in the stronger terms that it used in its resolutions creating the ad hoc tribunals. She urged the Council to call on U.N. Member States to cooperate in the arrest of suspects under ICC arrest warrants, and she urged the Council to consider ways to address the failure of States to comply with such obligations.

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