A conference to review the International Criminal Court ended in the Ugandan capital Kampala on Saturday with a compromise deal on how investigations into suspected crimes of state aggression could be triggered.
Here are some facts about the ICC:
WHAT IS THE ICC?
* The United Nations has ad hoc tribunals dealing with abuses in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, but the ICC is the first permanent court set up to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.
* The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was established on July 17, 1998, when 120 states participating in a conference on the court adopted the treaty.
* The statute needed a minimum of 60 ratifications to come into force, which it reached in April 2002 and the treaty entered into force on July 1, 2002. The court is now supported by 111 nations, but not by the United States, Russia or China.
* The ICC launched its first investigations in 2004, into crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. It issued its first arrest warrants in 2005 for five leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, accused of stoking 19 years of conflict. The governments of both countries had asked the ICC to investigate.
* The U.N. Security Council voted in March 2005 to refer war crimes cases in Sudan's Darfur to the ICC, the first time it has made a referral to the court in what was seen as a victory for supporters of the ICC. Formal investigations began in June 2005.
* The court only has jurisdiction with respect to crimes committed after July 1, 2002, in countries that have ratified its treaty. However, the ICC can also prosecute if the Security Council refers a case to it regarding crimes committed in a country that is not a signatory to the treaty.
* The ICC is separate from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest legal authority of the United Nations which is also based in The Hague and which was inaugurated in 1946 to resolve disputes between states.
* SOME MAJOR CASES:
* The ICC indicted Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in 2005 for war crimes in a brutal, two-decade rebellion that began in north Uganda but has spilled into south Sudan, east Congo and the Central African Republic.
* At present, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo are on trial. They are accused of attacking civilians, using child soldiers and being responsible for rape committed by subordinates in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
* Congolese rebel Jean-Pierre Bemba is facing trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is accused of leading rebels from the Democratic Republic of Congo in a campaign of torture, rape and murder in the neighbouring Central African Republic. Arrested in Belgium in May 2008, he denies all the charges, and his lawyers have challenged the case, forcing the start of his trial to be postponed until July 5, 2010.
* Accused Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, an ethnic Hema, was accused of enlisting and conscripting children under 15 to his Union of Congolese Patriots to kill rival Lendus in a 1998-2003 war in the DRC. He became the first person to be tried by the ICC in January 2009.
* An arrest warrant was issued by the ICC in March 2009 for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir over charges of crimes against humanity in Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur region.
* In March 2010, ICC judges authorised Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo to investigate and bring to the ICC's courtroom those most responsible for the killing of 1,220 people, the rape of hundreds and forced displacement of more than 350,000 in ethnic violence after Kenyan elections in late 2007.
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/ )
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Philippa Fletcher)
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