Speaking of War Criminals

| Tue Oct. 4, 2011 5:42 PM EDT

Good news for Cote d'Ivoirians who would like to see any sort of incremental progress toward justice for alleged rapists, murderers, and civilian-attackers within their government. The judges of the International Criminal Court have approved an investigation into crimes committed during the past year's unrest. The judges have also given ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo a month to determine whether crimes also took place between 2002 and 2010, so they can decide whether to investigate that period as well. My guess as to the answer of that question: yes. Human Rights Watch has a whole library of research about an entire decade of war crimes perpetrated by the forces of both the former and current presidents.

Some cool things about this development: Cote d'Ivoire is not a member of the ICC, but it gave the court jurisdiction anyway, which says something about the spread of the institution's reach. Some of the crimes in Cote d'Ivoire happened very recently, which says something about the institution's potential justice-persuing speed. It's good that someone with prosecutorial power is investigating possible crimes. Plus, the ICC's investigation process, which basically involves dispatching a bunch of international research spies, is just cool on its own merits.

However, if this investigations results in the ICC issuing arrest warrants, it is going to catch more flack for only trying to arrest Africans. But it also will catch flack for not actually being able to arrest the Africans it has outstanding warrants for.

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