The International Criminal Court plans to build a new regional office in Japan, the first of its kind outside The Hague, to establish a stronger presence in Asia, a region underrepresented among the court’s 123 members, announced his boss on Friday.
“Personally, I would like the ICC to have a permanent presence in the region, especially in Japan,” ICC President Piotr Hofmanski said in an interview with Kyodo News in Tokyo during his first visit to Japan since. taking office in 2021.
This is an “interim option” that is still under consideration, he noted, but expressed hope that the establishment of such a presence would help “promote the ICC in Japan and throughout the region”.
The office could also develop a system to train staff in international criminal law at universities and law schools in Japan, while encouraging more Japanese professionals to apply for jobs at the ICC, he said.
The ICC counts on “Japan’s support and cooperation to help spread the idea of international criminal justice (in Asia) and encourage more states in the region to join”, he said.
Japan is one of the largest financial contributors to the ICC, allocating 3 billion yen ($20 million) in the fiscal year 2022 budget, as well as contributing to its operations and personnel, for example by sending prosecutors to help in cases.
Japan is one of the ICC’s most important and reliable partners, he added.
The ICC has 123 member states, including 19 from Asia-Pacific, but some major countries like the United States, China, India and Indonesia are not members.
After the invasion of Russia in February, the tribunal drew worldwide attention after opening a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine based on calls for an investigation into Russia’s conduct of 41 Member States, including Japan.
Hofmanski said there are currently numerous investigators, forensic experts, analysts and other professionals in the country collecting information and evidence on Russia’s conduct during the war.
The court cooperates closely with civil society and other organizations to gather information on victims of alleged war crimes, he said.
The ICC, the world’s first permanent international criminal court, was created to try individuals accused of violating international law. It is said to be a court of “last resort” and only exercises jurisdiction when states are unwilling or unable to do so.
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