ROME STATUTE OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
PART 3. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF
Nullum crimen sine lege
1. A person
shall not be criminally responsible under this Statute unless the conduct
in question constitutes, at the time it takes place, a crime within the
jurisdiction of the Court.
definition of a crime shall be strictly construed and shall not be extended
by analogy. In case of ambiguity, the definition shall be interpreted in
favour of the person being investigated, prosecuted or convicted.
article shall not affect the characterization of any conduct as criminal
under international law independently of this Statute.
Nulla poena sine lege
A person convicted by the Court may be punished only in accordance with
Non-retroactivity ratione personae
person shall be criminally responsible under this Statute for conduct prior
to the entry into force of the Statute.
the event of a change in the law applicable to a given case prior to a
final judgement, the law more favourable to the person being investigated,
prosecuted or convicted shall apply.
Individual criminal responsibility
Court shall have jurisdiction over natural persons pursuant to this Statute.
person who commits a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court shall be
individually responsible and liable for punishment in accordance with this
accordance with this Statute, a person shall be criminally responsible
and liable for punishment for a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court
if that person:
(a) Commits such a crime, whether
as an individual, jointly with another or through another person, regardless
of whether that other person is criminally responsible;
(b) Orders, solicits or induces
the commission of such a crime which in fact occurs or is attempted;
(c) For the purpose of facilitating
the commission of such a crime, aids, abets or otherwise assists in its
commission or its attempted commission, including providing the means for
(d) In any other way contributes
to the commission or attempted commission of such a crime by a group of
persons acting with a common purpose. Such contribution shall be intentional
and shall either:
(i) Be made with the aim of furthering
the criminal activity or criminal purpose of the group, where such activity
or purpose involves the commission of a crime within the jurisdiction of
the Court; or
(e) In respect of the crime of genocide,
directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide;
(ii) Be made in the knowledge
of the intention of the group to commit the crime;
(f) Attempts to commit such a
crime by taking action that commences its execution by means of a substantial
step, but the crime does not occur because of circumstances independent
of the person's intentions. However, a person who abandons the effort to
commit the crime or otherwise prevents the completion of the crime shall
not be liable for punishment under this Statute for the attempt to commit
that crime if that person completely and voluntarily gave up the criminal
4. No provision
in this Statute relating to individual criminal responsibility shall affect
the responsibility of States under international law.
Exclusion of jurisdiction over persons under eighteen
The Court shall have no jurisdiction over any person who was under the
age of 18 at the time of the alleged commission of a crime.
Irrelevance of official capacity
Statute shall apply equally to all persons without any distinction based
on official capacity. In particular, official capacity as a Head of State
or Government, a member of a Government or parliament, an elected representative
or a government official shall in no case exempt a person from criminal
responsibility under this Statute, nor shall it, in and of itself, constitute
a ground for reduction of sentence.
or special procedural rules which may attach to the official capacity of
a person, whether under national or international law, shall not bar the
Court from exercising its jurisdiction over such a person.
Responsibility of commanders and other superiors
In addition to other grounds of criminal responsibility under this Statute
for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court:
(a) A military commander or person
effectively acting as a military commander shall be criminally responsible
for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court committed by forces under
his or her effective command and control, or effective authority and control
as the case may be, as a result of his or her failure to exercise control
properly over such forces, where:
(i) That military commander or
person either knew or, owing to the circumstances at the time, should have
known that the forces were committing or about to commit such crimes; and
(b) With respect to superior and
subordinate relationships not described in paragraph (a), a superior shall
be criminally responsible for crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court
committed by subordinates under his or her effective authority and control,
as a result of his or her failure to exercise control properly over such
(ii) That military commander or
person failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures within his
or her power to prevent or repress their commission or to submit the matter
to the competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.
(i) The superior either knew,
or consciously disregarded information which clearly indicated, that the
subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes;
(ii) The crimes concerned activities
that were within the effective responsibility and control of the superior;
(iii) The superior failed to take
all necessary and reasonable measures within his or her power to prevent
or repress their commission or to submit the matter to the competent authorities
for investigation and prosecution.
Non-applicability of statute of limitations
The crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court shall not be subject to
any statute of limitations.
otherwise provided, a person shall be criminally responsible and liable
for punishment for a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court only if
the material elements are committed with intent and knowledge.
the purposes of this article, a person has intent where:
(a) In relation to conduct, that
person means to engage in the conduct;
(b) In relation to a consequence,
that person means to cause that consequence or is aware that it will occur
in the ordinary course of events.
3. For the
purposes of this article, "knowledge" means awareness that a circumstance
exists or a consequence will occur in the ordinary course of events. "Know"
and "knowingly" shall be construed accordingly.
Grounds for excluding criminal responsibility
addition to other grounds for excluding criminal responsibility provided
for in this Statute, a person shall not be criminally responsible if, at
the time of that person's conduct:
(a) The person suffers from a
mental disease or defect that destroys that person's capacity to appreciate
the unlawfulness or nature of his or her conduct, or capacity to control
his or her conduct to conform to the requirements of law;
(b) The person is in a state of
intoxication that destroys that person's capacity to appreciate the unlawfulness
or nature of his or her conduct, or capacity to control his or her conduct
to conform to the requirements of law, unless the person has become voluntarily
intoxicated under such circumstances that the person knew, or disregarded
the risk, that, as a result of the intoxication, he or she was likely to
engage in conduct constituting a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
(c) The person acts reasonably
to defend himself or herself or another person or, in the case of war crimes,
property which is essential for the survival of the person or another person
or property which is essential for accomplishing a military mission, against
an imminent and unlawful use of force in a manner proportionate to the
degree of danger to the person or the other person or property protected.
The fact that the person was involved in a defensive operation conducted
by forces shall not in itself constitute a ground for excluding criminal
responsibility under this subparagraph;
(d) The conduct which is alleged
to constitute a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been caused
by duress resulting from a threat of imminent death or of continuing or
imminent serious bodily harm against that person or another person, and
the person acts necessarily and reasonably to avoid this threat, provided
that the person does not intend to cause a greater harm than the one sought
to be avoided. Such a threat may either be:
(i) Made by other persons; or
(ii) Constituted by other circumstances
beyond that person's control.
2. The Court
shall determine the applicability of the grounds for excluding criminal
responsibility provided for in this Statute to the case before it.
trial, the Court may consider a ground for excluding criminal responsibility
other than those referred to in paragraph 1 where such a ground is derived
from applicable law as set forth in article 21. The procedures relating
to the consideration of such a ground shall be provided for in the Rules
of Procedure and Evidence.
Mistake of fact or mistake of law
1. A mistake
of fact shall be a ground for excluding criminal responsibility only if
it negates the mental element required by the crime.
mistake of law as to whether a particular type of conduct is a crime within
the jurisdiction of the Court shall not be a ground for excluding criminal
responsibility. A mistake of law may, however, be a ground for excluding
criminal responsibility if it negates the mental element required by such
a crime, or as provided for in article 33.
Superior orders and prescription of law
fact that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been committed
by a person pursuant to an order of a Government or of a superior, whether
military or civilian, shall not relieve that person of criminal responsibility
(a) The person was under a legal
obligation to obey orders of the Government or the superior in question;
(b) The person did not know that
the order was unlawful; and
(c) The order was not manifestly
2. For the
purposes of this article, orders to commit genocide or crimes against humanity
are manifestly unlawful.
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