Practice Relating to Rule 160. Statutes of Limitation
Iraq’s Law of the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal (2005) provides that the crimes stipulated, which include war crimes, “shall not be subject to any statute of limitations”.
In its judgment in the Al-Dujail case in 2006, the Iraqi High Tribunal stated:
However, Article One of the conventions of non-prescription of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 1968 settled this matter as follows:
“No prescription (time limitation) shall apply to the following crimes regardless of the time of their perpetration”, for it is stated in article 2/b of the same convention what follows:
“Crimes committed against humanity whether in peace or war, and as defined in the basic regulations of the Nuremburg Military Tribunal issued on 8/August/1945 etc.”
A dispute was raised regarding the extent to which the prescription of the previous crime can be considered as part of international customary law. However, most of the jurisprudence says that these crimes have become related to the codes of commanding international law and therefore they shall not be liable to time limitations, but any country is permitted to have recourse to the global concept of international specialization to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes, regardless of the time and date of committing them and the law of the Iraqi criminal court has affirmed this point of view, for article 17/First, stated the invalidity of the prescription that drops a penal lawsuit on crimes included the court specialization as stipulated in articles 11, 12 and 13 therein.
Despite our admission that Iraq has not ratified any non-prescription convention of war crimes and crimes against humanity before or after 1982, and that the provisions of article 17/First legalized first the issue of the Specialized Iraqi Court law in 2003 and then the Iraqi High Tribunal law in 2005, however, as long as we believe that most of international conventions, especially those legalized (general international agreements), were in fact codifications of obligatory previous international custom, therefore we see that Iraq is obliged by it if it was not considered a general international convention (legal) then at least it includes obligatory customary codes.