Practice Relating to Rule 153. Command Responsibility for Failure to Prevent, Punish or Report War Crimes
In the Mengistu and Others case in 1995 concerning the prosecution and trial of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam and former members of the Derg for allegedly committing crimes against humanity and war crimes during the former regime between 1974 and 1991, the Special Prosecutor of Ethiopia, in a reply to the objection filed by counsels for the defendants, referred, inter alia, to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, to the 1945 IMT Charter (Nuremberg) and Nuremberg trials and to the 1993 ICTY Statute. He stated:
Heads of State and other higher responsible government officials in any form of government are all required and obliged to know international crimes thereunder. They are also obliged to prevent the commission of these acts [i.e. of international crimes] and to ensure the observance of the international norms.
According to Ethiopia’s Office of the Special Public Prosecutor (SPO), which is in charge of prosecuting persons who allegedly committed crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes between 1974 and 1991, since its establishment in 1992 by Proclamation 22/1992 of the transitional government of Ethiopia, by 1997 a total of 5,198 persons had been charged, of whom 2,433 were field commanders, “those who transmitted the orders of the [policy- and decision-makers] and also originated fresh orders of their own”. The charges were based on Ethiopia’s Penal Code.