Practice Relating to Rule 161. International Cooperation in Criminal Proceedings
Section E. Cooperation with international criminal tribunals
Belgium’s Law on Recognition of and Cooperation (1996) with the International Tribunals states:
According to Article 86 of the Statute, Belgium fully cooperates with the Court’s investigations and proceedings relating to the crimes under its jurisdiction.
Belgium’s Law Containing the Preliminary Title of the Code of Criminal Procedure (1878), as amended, provides:
Seized with a complaint pursuant to the paragraphs above [including for serious violations of international humanitarian law] the Federal Prosecutor requires the investigating magistrate to conduct an enquiry into the complaint unless … on the basis of the specific circumstances of the case it is clear that, in the interest of the proper administration of justice and in compliance with Belgium’s international obligations, the matter should be brought … before an international court.
Belgium’s Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (1993), as amended in 2003, provides:
Seized with a claim pursuant to paragraph 2, the Federal Prosecutor shall request the investigating judge to conduct an investigation into the claim, except if … it results from the specific circumstances of the case that, in the interest of the good administration of justice and in compliance with Belgium’s international obligations, this case should be brought before … international jurisdictions.
The Law further states:
In application of Article 14 of the [1998 ICC Statute], the Minister of Justice may inform the International Criminal Court of facts that have been referred to the judicial authorities, by means of a decision of the Council of Ministers. Such information cannot concern acts committed on the Belgian territory, acts committed by a Belgian citizen, nor acts committed against a Belgian citizen, except if these acts are connected or identical to acts which have already been referred to the Court, and for which a decision of admissibility has already been rendered pursuant to Article 18 of the 1998 ICC Statute.
Once the Prosecutor of the Court has made the notification provided under Article 18(1) of the [1998 ICC] Statute, regarding the acts that the Minister of Justice has brought to the attention of the Court, the Court of Cassation shall, at the request of the General Prosecutor, order the removal of the case from the Belgian court to which those same acts were referred.
When the International Criminal Court, at the Minister of Justice’s request, informs the Minister of Justice, following the removal of the case from the Belgian court, that the Prosecutor of the Court has decided not to draw up an indictment, that the Court did not confirm an indictment, that the Court has declared itself to lack jurisdiction, or has declared the case to be inadmissible, the Belgian courts shall once again have jurisdiction.
Belgium’s Law on Cooperation with the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Tribunals (2004), as amended, provides:
3. In accordance with Article 86 of the Statute [of the International Criminal Court], Belgium fully cooperates with the Court in investigating and prosecuting the crimes falling within the Court’s jurisdiction.
7. Belgian judicial authorities may seek the Court’s cooperation. …
8.1 Pursuant to Article 14 of the Statute, the Minister of Justice may, upon decision of the Council of Ministers, refer to the Court a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed, requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes.
The Law further provides:
44. Under the provisions of the present law, Belgium will comply with the duties of cooperation arising from Resolutions 808 (1993), 827 (1993) and 955 (1994) adopted by the [UN] Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations.
45. The competent authorities will grant the Tribunal their full judicial cooperation with regard to any procedure relating to the breaches set out in Articles 1–8 of the Statute of the Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and in Articles 2–4 of the Statute of the Tribunal for Rwanda, in accordance with the provisions of the resolutions mentioned in Article 44 of the present law, as well as with the provisions set forth in the Statute[s], the Rules [of Procedure and Evidence of the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and of the Tribunal for Rwanda] and the present law.
59. In accordance with the provisions of the present law, Belgium may follow up on requests for judicial cooperation issued by the [Special] Tribunal [for Sierra Leone].
61. The competent authorities will grant the Tribunal their full judicial cooperation with regard to any procedure resulting from a request for cooperation from the [Special] Tribunal [for Sierra Leone] which the central authority has decided to follow up on.
65. In accordance with the provisions of the present law, Belgium may follow up on requests for judicial cooperation issued by the Extraordinary Chambers [for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea].
67. The competent authorities will grant the Extraordinary Chambers [for the Prosecution of Crimes Committed during the Period of Democratic Kampuchea] their full judicial cooperation with regard to any procedure resulting from a request for cooperation from the Extraordinary Chambers which the central authority has decided to follow up on.
Upon ratification of the 1998 ICC Statute, Belgium stated:
With reference to article 87, paragraph 1, of the [1998 ICC] Statute, the Kingdom of Belgium declares that the Ministry of Justice is the authority competent to receive requests for cooperation.
With reference to article 87, paragraph 2 [of the 1998 ICC Statute], the Kingdom of Belgium declares that requests by the Court for cooperation and any documents supporting the request shall be in an official language of the Kingdom.
In 2005, in a statement before the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs stated:
In order to [rebuild peace after conflict], it is essential to render justice and fight against impunity. With the establishment of the International Criminal Court, we have today at our disposal an adequate judicial tool in order to adjudicate and punish the most serious crimes. Now let us not allow it to be ignored, or alternative solutions to be favoured which do not offer the same guarantees.
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the humanitarian situation in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa, the representative of Belgium stated, with reference to Uganda:
If any form of justice other than the International Criminal Court were to be pursued, it would have to satisfy minimum conditions and respect the principle of complementarity, in accordance with the Rome Statute [1998 ICC Statute].
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on peace and security in Africa, the Prime Minister of Belgium stated, with regard to the use of child soldiers:
… [Joseph] Kony, the so-called leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda … alone has been responsible for the abuse of almost 70,000 child soldiers on the African continent. An international arrest warrant has been issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. We know where he is, but nobody arrests him … We know what Kony has done; we know what he is doing and we know where he is, and there is not any possible pretext for him not to be arrested. I therefore ask individually, the members of the Security Council to do just that. … Let us arrest him and put him on trial.
Holding perpetrators to account [for] grave violations against children continues to be rare … and yet is a crucial element towards protecting children’s rights … In those cases where national authorities are unwilling or unable to hold perpetrators to account, due to lack of capacity or resources for instance, international justice mechanisms, including through the work of the International Criminal Court, and ad hoc
and mixed tribunals, can and should play a complementary role.