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France: Law to Adapt France’s Criminal Code to the International Criminal Court

(Sept. 20, 2010) France's Law 2010-930 of August 9, 2010, on adapting the Criminal Code to the International Criminal Court, aims at implementing the principle of complementarity contained in article 1 of the Rome Statute of July 1998, which created the Court. This principle presupposes the adoption of national laws so that the member country can prosecute and sentence those guilty of the offenses listed in the Rome Statute (Loi 2010-930 du 9 août 2010, portent adaptation du droit pénal à l'institution de la cour pénale internationale, Legifrance, [File: Les autres textes législatifs et réglementaires]; (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Rome Statute website, (last visited Sept. 10, 2010)).

The Law punishes any direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Penalties differ depending on whether the incitement is acted upon (life imprisonment) or not (seven years of imprisonment and a €100,000 fine (about US$127,00)). (Id. art. 1.) The Law also extends the definition of crimes against humanity to conform to the definition in article 7 of the Rome Statute. (Id. art. 2.)

The Law defines the conditions under which commanders and other superior officers may be found criminally responsible for a crime against humanity, where they either failed to prevent or repress its commission or failed to submit the matter to the proper authority for investigation and prosecution. (Id. art. 3.)

The Law also inserts Title IVbis in the Criminal Code, entitled “War Crimes and Délits.” It provides that “the offenses defined by the present Title constitute war crimes and délits committed against persons and property, during an international or non-international armed conflict and in relation to this conflict, in violation of the laws and customs of war or international conventions applicable to armed conflict.” The Law goes on to list all the offenses. Délit is one of three categories of criminal offenses in France. Thefts, assaults, and fraud are all examples of délits. (Id. art. 7.)

Finally, the Law inserts article 689-11 in the Code of Criminal Procedure, which gives jurisdiction to French courts over a person habitually residing in France who has committed one of the offenses listed in the Rome Statute, provided that the offense is punishable in the state in which it was committed or in the state of the person's citizenship, if the state is a party to the Rome Statute. (Id. art. 8.)