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Article Ecuador: Law on Cooperation with the International Criminal Court Enacted

On May 16, 2024, Ecuador enacted a law governing cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The law was unanimously approved by the National Assembly on March 14, 2024. Following its passage, President Daniel Noboa reviewed the bill and presented a partial objection on April 17, which was later accepted by the National Assembly on May 8. The law became effective upon its publication on May 16. (Organic Law of Cooperation Between the Ecuadorian State and the International Criminal Court, Registro Oficial, 3rd Supp. No. 559, May 16, 2024.)

The primary objective of this law is to establish clear mechanisms and procedures to ensure cooperation and assistance between Ecuador and the ICC. (Art. 1.) The ICC is an international court established to investigate and prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.

Key areas of cooperation provided for in the law include

    • ensuring individuals are handed over promptly to the ICC as provided for on the Rome Statute (the treaty that established the ICC);
    • establishing procedures to deal with multiple requests of extradition from the ICC and other sovereign states;
    • determining the procedures by which provisional detention of individuals within Ecuador will be carried out, when required urgently by the ICC;
    • facilitating the arrest and extradition of individuals as requested by the ICC; and
    • providing comprehensive support in investigations, including gathering evidence, conducting interrogations, securing documents, protecting witnesses, and ensuring the protection of victims. (Art. 2.)

Jurisdiction

The Law of Cooperation provides that the ICC will exercise its jurisdiction as complementary to Ecuador’s national criminal jurisdiction, in accordance with provisions of the Rome Statute. (Art. 5.2.) Thus Ecuador’s national jurisdiction is the primary authority to prosecute the international crimes specified in the Rome Statute, while the ICC will complement Ecuador’s national courts when necessary.

Article 17 of the Rome Statute effectuates complementarity by outlining specific criteria under which the ICC shall determine a case to be inadmissible, namely where

    (a) The case is being investigated or prosecuted by a State which has jurisdiction over it, unless the State is unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution;
    (b) The case has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it and the State has decided not to prosecute the person concerned, unless the decision resulted from the unwillingness or inability of the State to genuinely prosecute;
    (c) The person concerned has already been tried for conduct which is the subject of the complaint, and a trial by the Court is not permitted under [the Rome Statute]; [or]

    (d) The case is not of sufficient gravity to justify further action by the Court.

    Article 17 also has criteria for determining whether a country should be deemed unwilling to prosecute or considered unable to prosecute.

    Key State Bodies Involved  

    The Law of Cooperation designates several key government bodies to facilitate cooperation with the ICC. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility will act as the primary liaison with the ICC and is responsible for receiving and sending requests. The Attorney General’s Office will be in charge of requests for conducting a criminal investigation jointly with the ICC. The National Court of Justice will issue guidelines and channel legal assistance requests from the ICC. (Art. 6.)

    Procedures and Rights  

    The law outlines detailed procedures for handling requests, ensuring they are made through diplomatic channels in Spanish and will contain sufficient information. (Art. 26.) It also emphasizes the rights of detainees, validation of detention, provisional detention, and the process by which the individual will be handed over to the ICC. (Arts. 7-17.)

    Refusal to Cooperate  

    The law provides that Ecuador retains the right to refuse cooperation if national security is compromised. Such refusals must be justified and communicated through diplomatic channels, ensuring the confidentiality of documents sent to the ICC. (Art. 27.)

    Asylum  

    The law explicitly states that Ecuador will not accord asylum or refugee status to individuals whenever there is a well-founded reason to believe that they have committed crimes under the Rome Statute. (Art. 35.)

    Implementation and Internal Regulations  

    Within 90 days of the law’s enactment, responsible institutions must issue internal regulations to ensure full compliance with the new legal framework. (Disposición Transitoria Única.)

    As noted in one news report, in unanimously approving the Law of Cooperation, the assembly “supported a significant step in the global fight against impunity, establishing a procedural regime for cooperation in the investigation, prosecution, and extradition of individuals who have committed crimes punished under the Rome Statute.”

    Assembly member Raisa Corral, Vice President of the International Relations Commission, highlighted that the approval of this law will strengthen Ecuador’s commitment to international justice, the protection of human rights, and the fight against impunity. Additionally, she observed that this law aims to “reinforce national judicial bodies to provide due process guarantees as established in the international legal framework regarding crimes like genocide, ethnocide, forced disappearance, extrajudicial execution, crimes against humanity, among others.”

    Stephania Alvarez, Law Library of Congress
    June 28, 2024

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    Chicago citation style:

    Alvarez, Stephania. Ecuador: Law on Cooperation with the International Criminal Court Enacted. 2024. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-06-27/ecuador-law-on-cooperation-with-the-international-criminal-court/.

    APA citation style:

    Alvarez, S. (2024) Ecuador: Law on Cooperation with the International Criminal Court Enacted. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-06-27/ecuador-law-on-cooperation-with-the-international-criminal-court/.

    MLA citation style:

    Alvarez, Stephania. Ecuador: Law on Cooperation with the International Criminal Court Enacted. 2024. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2024-06-27/ecuador-law-on-cooperation-with-the-international-criminal-court/>.