Individuals have committed crimes
at an international level, for which there are questions of jurisdiction and
difficulties of enforcement. When a national leader commits crimes against humanity;
genocide and torture, there is no national jurisdiction that can investigate,
try, and punish so long as that leader remains in power. When terrorists kill
or injure people in international waters or international air space, who has
jurisdiction? When drug cartels operate across national boundaries, which national
jurisdiction should apply? An international
criminal court convened for the first time on September 3, 2002. Its effectiveness
has been undermined by the refusal of the United States to sign the ratifying
document. The criminal court has been
active in indicting the leader of a group in Uganda, which has allegedly committed
crimes against humanity. It has also indicted the ruler of Sudan for alleged
genocide committed in the Sudan.
A special international tribunal was established after World War II to try and punish the criminals of Nazi Germany.
Individuals involved in the commission of atrocities in the the civil wars of the former Yugoslavia are being tried by an international court convened for that specific purpose.
General Pinochet of Chile, when he traveled to England, was subject to possible extradition to Spain because, during his time in power, he was charged with the killing of large numbers of Spanish citizens.
A special criminal court has been convened in the Hague in Belgium to hear cases involving alleged genocide in the former Yugoslavia. The Serbian dictator, Miloshevic, was undergoing trial when he died for reasons of health. Other former Serbian leaders have also been indicted by the court.
The purpose of the international criminal court is to investigate, indict and try individuals who are suspected of committing crimes against humanity when those crimes do not fall under the jurisdiction of any national criminal court.