- On July 6th 2020 an Article 15 Complaint was submitted on behalf of the Government of East Turkistan in Exile and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement to the ICC Prosecutor asking for an investigation to be opened into genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Uyghur people by Chinese officials.
- Although China is not a party to the ICC, the Complaint was submitted on that basis the Prosecutor has jurisdiction over the situation as parts of the crimes were committed in ICC States Parties, namely Tajikistan and Cambodia.
- The Prosecutor announced her preliminary decision in regard to this Complaint on December 14th.
- The Prosecutor has said there is not enough jurisdictional evidence at this stage to open an investigation, however, this could change when more evidence is received and considered by the Prosecutor.
- The further evidence needs to address additional instances of the rounding up of Uyghurs abroad by the Chinese Government, and forcing them back into China, specifically from Tajikistan and Cambodia, as well as of deportation from China into Tajikistan.
- The legal team last week submitted a further communication to the Prosecutor outlining this very evidence being assembled for the Prosecutor’s consideration in accordance with Article 15(6) of the Statute and Rule 49 (2) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
The Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC has published her annual report on Preliminary examination activities. In the report she address the complaint filed by the legal representatives of the Government of East Turkistan in Exile (ETGE) and the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement (ETNAM). In line with her correspondence with the legal representatives, she has clarified that there is a need for further jurisdictional evidence to be submitted in order to open an investigation into genocide and crimes against humanity committed against the Uyghur and other Turkic peoples by Chinese officials.
The lawyers for the ETGE and ETNAM submitted a further communication to the Prosecutor outlining the evidence to be filed for the Prosecutor’s consideration in accordance with Article 15(6) of the Statute and Rule 49 (2) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. These provisions permit the Prosecutor to consider new evidence filed in order to decide whether to open an investigation. The matter is proceeding so that this evidence is considered by the Prosecutor for this purpose.
This is the first complaint of its kind, and the only way that Chinese officials could be criminally investigated and prosecuted at the international level for the abuses carried out against Uyghur people. Although China is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the decisions of ICC Pre-Trial Chambers I and III of 6 September 2018 and 14 November 2019 respectively (decisions related to Bangladesh and Myanmar in reference to Rohingya people), confirmed that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes under Article 12(2)(a) of the Statute when part of the criminal conduct takes place on the territory of a State Party to the Rome Statute. In this case, Tajikistan and Cambodia.
The Prosecutor will be receiving further evidence of the rounding up of Uyghurs abroad by the Chinese Government, and forcing them back into occupied East Turkistan (Xinjiang), specifically from Tajikistan and Cambodia, as well as evidence of deportation from China into Tajikistan and elsewhere.
The Complaint makes clear that the crimes committed against the Uyghur people have been widespread and systematic. They have taken place on a mass scale and should therefore all be investigated in order to ascertain whether the alleged perpetrators can be charged and tried. As the Court held in the Rohingya case, continuing crimes that take place in part on the territory of an ICC State Party come within the jurisdiction of the Court and can be investigated.
The lead lawyer, Rodney Dixon QC stated that:
“The OTP has in effect asked for more evidence if it is to be able to open an investigation. The OTP says there is insufficient evidence now, but further evidence can be provided which can lead to an investigation being opened. The fact is that the file is not closed as we have submitted under Article 15(6) as acknowledged by the OTP, the purpose of which is to get an investigation opened which the Prosecutor will consider. We are submitting further evidence to get an investigation opened. This process before the ICC is ongoing and we are hopeful that an investigation will be commenced.
This is a very important moment. The millions of Uyghur victims who are suffering terrible atrocities at the hand of the Chinese Government officials need justice and we are hopeful that the ICC will take up this investigation. We will be providing highly relevant evidence that will permit this to happen in the coming months. We are engaging with the Office of the Prosecutor as these proceedings go on with the aim of opening a full investigation.”
EVENT: OPENING AN INVESTIGATION INTO CRIMES COMMITTED BY CHINESE OFFICIALS
When: Wednesday December 16th 2020, 15.00 (Hague Time)
On the side-lines of the annual International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties, The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) and Rodney Dixon QC invite you to a panel discussion on attempts to hold the Chinese government to account for grave human rights abuses in East Turkistan (what China calls “Xinjiang”) and surrounding nations, through the ICC.
Attendees will hear expert insights from panellists including:
- IPAC Co-Chair, Baroness Helena Kennedy
- IPAC Co-Chair, Hon. Irwin Cotler
- Rodney Dixon QC
- There will also be testimony from Uyghur survivors
IPAC is the world’s largest international cross-party network of parliamentarians seeking to reform the approach of democratic countries to China.
Rodney Dixon QC is an International Human Rights QC based in London and The Hague. He is the lead barrister on the team that submitted an Article 15 Complaint to the ICC Prosecutor in July asking for an investigation to be opened into crimes allegedly committed by Chinese Government officials against Uyghur and other Turkic peoples.