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ICC not doing enough on government accountability for atrocities - HRW

Human Rights Watch released a report Thursday calling for the International Criminal Court to do more to hold senior government officials accountable for atrocities and improve its credibility.

The 50-page report stated that the ICC had not gone far enough in prosecuting war criminals and ensuring justice was delivered, calling for additional cases to be opened.

Elizabeth Evenson, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch said,

"The ICC's first investigations have too often bypassed key perpetrators and crimes.

By failing to project an effective and coherent strategy through his investigations, the prosecutor has too often come up short.”

Looking at ICC investigations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, the group criticized the fact that charges were not brought forward onto government officials allegedly responsible for abuses. They also said that more government officials had to be prosecuted for their part in atrocities committed in the Central African Republic and in Darfur.

Writing in the Guardian, Evenson said,

“These choices matter. They have left too many victims without justice and have disappointed the public. They have undermined perceptions of the court's independence and impartiality.”

However, the New York-based group also praised the work of the ICC stating that it has made "an important contribution to tackling impunity for some of the world's worst crimes."

The group also welcomed the decision to investigate crimes in Libya and to move to investigate crimes in Côte d’Ivoire stating they "recognize that this responds to genuine needs for accountability for serious crimes committed in those countries".

The report, entitled “Unfinished Business: Closing Gaps in the Selection of ICC cases”, comes as the term for ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo draws to an end. A new prosecutor is expected to take office by mid-2012.

"With the appointment of a new prosecutor by year’s end and new cases in Libya, the ICC prosecutor should close gaps in investigation and prosecution strategies and bring additional cases."

But a renewed commitment by the ICC prosecutor to bring justice where it is needed most would go to the heart of delivering on the ICC's promise. Such a commitment deserves our support.”

Seated at The Hague, the ICC was set up in 2002 to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes.