Practice Relating to Rule 160. Statutes of Limitation
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book III, Volume 2 (Instruction of second-year trainee officers):
II.3.2. No statutory limitation for breaches
In the matter of war crimes, the application of statutory limitation is opposed by a large section of the international community, which considers that these breaches, owing to their magnitude and horrific character, continue to provoke public indignation even after decades. Non-application of statutory limitation relates both to prosecution and to punishment.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Criminal Procedure Code (1960), as amended in 2015, states that “as regards the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crime[s], public action is imprescriptible”.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Penal Code (1981), as amended in 2015, states:
The provisions of articles 108, 117, 118, 133 and 135 of the present Code respectively on amnesty, mitigating circumstances, suspension and prescription of punishment do not apply to the offences referred to in the present chapter [including war crimes].
In 2003, in the Constitutionality of the ICC Statute case, Côte d’Ivoire’s Constitutional Council was called upon to decide on the constitutionality of the 1998 ICC Statute. The Court stated:
8. Considering that it is clear from article 17 paragraph 2 of the [1998 ICC] Statute that the [jurisdiction of the] International Criminal Court is complementary to national criminal jurisdiction [and considering] that the International Criminal Court can exercise its jurisdiction with respect to cases already pending before the [national] courts if it considers that the States concerned are unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out prosecutions;
9. Considering that the inability to prosecute may stem from a legal impossibility such as in the case [when] statutes of limitation [apply] …
[that t]he Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is not in conformity with the Constitution of 1 August 2000.
In 1968, during a debate in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on the question of the punishment of war criminals and of persons who have committed crimes against humanity, Côte d’Ivoire stated:
It was particularly important, by adopting a convention, to embody in international law the principle of the non-applicability of statutory limitation to war crimes and crimes against humanity at a time when the policy of aggression, intervention and hegemony pursued by certain countries was giving rise to new crimes of that kind in various parts of the world. He would therefore support any steps aimed at ensuring that such crimes were punished.