The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said on Wednesday there is evidence of war crimes by Islamic State insurgents in Iraq and Syria but little prospect yet that their leaders will be investigated by the ICC.Crimes attributed to the ultra-radical Sunni jihadist group range from mass executions, sexual slavery, rape and torture to forced recruitment of children and even genocide, Fatou Bensouda said in a statement.
But she said that while she had jurisdiction over crimes committed by fighters who are nationals of ICC member states, Islamic State’s leaders appeared mainly to be from Iraq and Syria, which are not ICC members.”At this stage, the prospects of my office investigating and prosecuting those most responsible, within the leadership of ISIS, appear limited,” Bensouda said.
The court could exercise “personal jurisdiction” over individuals who were citizens of member states, she added. Wider jurisdiction could also be referred to The Hague by the U.N. Security Council.Many citizens of ICC member states are suspected of committing atrocities while fighting for Islamic State, including “Jihadi John”, notorious for beheading hostages, who is believed to be a British citizen.
Bensouda said the court had received reports of thousands of foreign fighters joining Islamic State, many from ICC member states including Tunisia, Jordan, France, Britain, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Australia.”Some of these individuals (from member states) may have been involved in the commission of crimes against humanity and war crimes,” she added.