Corruption is a 'crime against humanity' and ought to be investigated and prosecuted as such!
19th October 2012 The Chief Prosecutor International Criminal Court (ICC) c/o Information and Evidence Unit Office of The Prosecutor Post Office Box 19519 2500 CM The Hague The Netherlands Dear Chief Prosecutor, ICC PETITION: CORRUPTION IS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY AND OUGHT TO BE INVESTIGATED AND PROSECUTED AS SUCH BY THE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF PROSECUTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT. The efforts of your Office, in investigating and prosecuting of ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’, are laudable, as it serves to check excesses and punish misdeeds by authorities of States whose conduct tend to diminish humanity, increase human suffering and thwart efforts at human and societal advancement. It is however a source of worry and concern that in the discharge of your duties as explicitly expressed in Article 15 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (The Statute), your Office has inadvertently or otherwise, omitted investigations into and or prosecutions for the a crime that in most cases, founds and gives rise to a plethora of violent crimes which your Office has focused its enormous powers on – ‘large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices’. Definition and characteristics of ‘crime against humanity’: Article 5 (b) of The Statute stipulates ‘crimes against humanity’ as one of the four categories of crimes your Office and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over. Article 7 of The Statute goes ahead to list a series of items which “when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”, constitute ‘crimes against humanity’, these acts include: (a) “Murder; (b) Extermination; (c) Enslavement; (d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) Torture; (g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; (h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; (i) Enforced disappearance of persons; (j) The crime of apartheid”; Of critical importance however is Article 7 (k) of The Statute, which whilst recognizing the acts listed in Article 7 (a) – (j) above as being non-conclusive, further lists as a ‘crime against humanity’ “Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”. From the foregoing provisions of The Statute and a general reading of the words and intent of The Statute, the following characteristics must be present for a crime to properly fall within the ambit of a ‘crime against humanity’, these are: 1. “Most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole” 2. “Widespread and systematic” 3. “Directed against any civilian population” 4. “Acts with knowledge of attack” 5. “Inhuman act” 6. “Intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health” For large-scale corruption and corrupt practices to validly fall within the jurisdiction of your Office and the ICC, it must meet the strict characteristics contained in Articles 5 and 7 of The Statute. Does Corruption meet the criteria of crime against humanity? 1. “Most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole” In two paragraphs of the preamble to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, the vile nature of corruption, its dastard impact on mankind and negative impact on the international community was accorded global recognition. These paragraphs state: “Concerned further about cases of corruption that involve vast quantities of assets, which may constitute a substantial proportion of the resources of States, and that threaten the political stability and sustainable development of those State”; “Convinced that the illicit acquisition of personal wealth can be particularly damaging to democratic institutions, national economies and the rule of law”. To further buttress the fact of corruption as a source of concern to the international community, Kofi Anan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, in his foreword to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, further states: “And by removing one of the biggest obstacles to development it can help us achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Be assured that the United Nations Secretariat, and in particular the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, will do whatever it can to support the efforts of States to eliminate the scourge of corruption from the face of the Earth. It is a big challenge, but I think that, together, we can make a difference” The need to tackle corruption can validly be said to be a matter of utmost importance to the international community. 2. Widespread and systematic: Corruption can only be properly referred to as a 'crime against humanity' in those jurisdictions where it is widespread and systematic and seemingly elevated to State policy. Clearly, when a sizable proportion of a States budget disappears to corruption and corrupt practices and the various institutions of that State act in collusion and unison, one with the other, to sustain, maintain and cover corruption and the proceeds thereof, corruption becomes widespread and systemic in such States. Without doubt, there are countries and societies where large-scale corruption and corrupt practices have attained epidemic proportions and are widespread and systematic in nature. 3. “Directed against any civilian population” The impact and dire consequences of large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices is borne by the civilian population of any given society. It is the civilian population who get deprived of social amenities, qualitative living and thus become dehumanized as a consequence of corruption. Large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices is definitely directed against the civilian population of whatsoever State where it is practiced. 4. “Acts with knowledge of attack” Large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices does not happen by mistake. It is the product of deliberate high-skilled criminality undertaken for the purpose of self and or group aggrandizement and greed at the expense of the civilian population of any State. The characters that profit from large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices do so with precise and clear ‘knowledge of the attack’ and criminality of their actions. 5. “Inhuman act” and “intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health” The inhumane nature of corruption is quite evident and all too glaring. The human sufferings, deplorable situation of the social determinants of health, deaths, violent conflicts, enslavement of peoples, mental and physical torture, forced relocation and dislocation of families, enforced prostitution and sexual slavery/rape and other consequences occasioned to victims of corruption and corrupt practices are all too evident of the inhuman nature of corruption. Under The Statute, Corruption is indeed a crime against humanity: Corruption can be described as the root cause of all other items listed as ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’. In addition, Large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices has of its own: *decimated and dehumanized millions across the globe, *vanquished and pauperized the civilian populace in several States, *led to genocidal wars, *impacted negatively on global health, *reduced humans into mere chattels and continues to *afflict irreparable harm to the environment and generations unborn. Large-scale official corruption and corrupt practices, undoubtedly, as can be gauged from the foregoing, meets the criteria set out under The Statute as a ‘crime against humanity’ and thus comes within the scope of crimes for which your Office has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute. Does all acts of corruption qualify as a crime against humanity? Certainly not! For any act of corruption or corrupt practices to qualify for investigation and probable prosecution by your Office, such acts must meets the strict criteria set out by the combined interpretation of Article 5 and 7 of The Statute as earlier highlighted. Just like not all murder or rape or illegal deportations qualify for investigation and probable prosecution by your Office, the quantum of corruption and corrupt practices which fall within the jurisdiction of your Office and the ICC will be of such nature that indeed impacts negatively on the civilian population of a given State as a whole, is widespread and systematic in nature, is inhuman, targeted against the civilian population and poses a source of concern to the international community. When this criteria is taken into consideration, the jurisdictions where your Office should assume jurisdiction over offences of corruption and corrupt practices as a ‘crime against humanity’ becomes quite clear and concise. Act now! By this petition, your Office, Office of the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, is enjoined to as a matter of urgency, commence investigations and where deemed necessary, prosecution of persons involved in large-scale corruption and corrupt practices as ‘crimes against humanity’! Your delay in positively responding to this petition may give rise to unwarranted violent conflagrations in such societies where the level of corruption and corrupt practices has become not only a source of internal security risk to the societies concerned, but also a growing source of instability and concern to the international community. Remain assured of my high regards, Yours sincerely,