Today – 17 July 2014 – is International Criminal Justice Day, marking the entry into force of the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court. In Cambodia, this year’s International Criminal Justice Day holds particular relevance considering that later this month, the next phase of the criminal trials for former Khmer Rouge leaders will commence.
What is the International Criminal Justice Day?
Every 17 July, International Criminal Justice Day is held to mark the adoption of the Rome Statute and to remind governments across the globe of their responsibility to bring to justice perpetrators of grave human rights violations.
The United Nations General Assembly first recognized the need for a permanent international court to deal with the most serious crimes in the wake of the atrocities of World War II. On 17 July 1998, the international community reached a historic milestone when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing the world’s first permanent International Criminal Court (“ICC”). In 2002 the ICC was established in The Hague, in the Netherlands, and is a permanent international tribunal that can prosecute individuals for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. International Criminal Justice Day was established in 2010, at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute in Kampala, Uganda.
Cambodia ratified the Rome Statute on 11 April 2002, which signaled the government’s commitment to upholding the principles of justice protected for by the Statute.