International Criminal Law – The ICC: Colombia and Chiquita Brands

 

              Chiquita Brands International is a multinational company and one of the largest banana producers in the world. In 2007, the company signed an agreement with US justice after admitting it was financing between 1997 and 2004 paramilitary groups of extreme right-wing in Colombia. The Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) have for years, killed and raped Colombian civilians. The company pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a $25 million fine for participating in the financing of this group considered as a terrorist organization by the United States. However, no criminal prosecution has been initiated against the company’s employers.

           In 2017, ten years after signing the agreement there were still no criminal charge or prosecution were made against Chiquita suspects. Human rights organizations have asked the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the alleged complicity Chiquita company’s leaders, in the commission of crimes against humanity in Colombia.

Crimes Against Humanity and Individual Criminal Responsibility:

         Under Article 7 of the Rome Statute, crimes against humanity involve different acts committed against civilians. In that case, Colombian terrorist organizations such as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia) may have committed: murders, sexual violence, persecution, torture, and forced disappearances and displacements. These crimes fall within the scope of crimes against humanity based on Article 7(1)(a)(d)(g)(f)(h)(i)(k) of the Rome Statute as they were directed towards the civilian population. 

             Article 25(3)(c) of the Statute states that each person “shall be criminally responsible and liable for punishment for a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court if: (c) For the purpose of facilitating the commission of such a crime, aids, abets or otherwise assists in its commission or its attempted commission, including providing the means for its commission.”  After Chiquita suspects, funded organizations recognized as terrorist groups, each one of them has the individual responsibility to be prosecuted for the crime they have committed. As a matter of fact, funding the terrorist groups furthered and facilitated the commission of criminal activities by rebel groups, including crimes against humanity as mentioned before.

Admissibility and Jurisdiction:

           This matter falls within the ICC jurisdiction has the temporal, territorial jurisdiction, and subject matter on Chiquita suspects’ actions. Adding to this, the crimes and accusations are sufficiently serious under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, for the ICC to open an investigation and prosecute the suspect. The complementary requirements are met under Article 1 of the Rome Statute as neither Colombia nor the United States of America has prosecuted any of the suspects.

        The ICC has temporal jurisdiction on the crimes committed in Colombia after November 2002 under Article 124 of the Rome Statute, as it has signed and ratified the Rome Statute at that time. Therefore, because Colombia is a signatory to the statute, the ICC has territorial jurisdiction over this matter. Adding to this, the ICC has the subject matter under Article 7 of the Rome Statute as crimes against humanity are involved in this case. Finally, the issue of admissibility is met because of the gravity of the accusations.

         As mentioned before, none of the Chiquita suspects have been prosecuted or faced criminal charges, and even if Colombia does prosecute, it does not possess the ability to do so, as the suspects are U.S. citizens. In that case, under the Rome Statute, a case is considered as being admissible if the country or countries involved have failed to investigate or prosecute the suspects. Even though Colombia opened an investigation, it has failed in fully prosecuting the Chiquita suspects, especially because they are U.S. citizens and reside in their country.

ICC Competency:

          The ICC should monitor the situation in Colombia by opening an investigation and prosecuting the given suspects. This case falls within the legislation of the ICC as it meets several requirements under the Rome Statute. As a matter of fact, the ICC has a “reasonable” basis as well as temporal, territorial, and subject matter jurisdictions regarding the seriousness of the crimes realized by Chiquita suspects. The disability to persecute the suspects by both Colombia and the U.S. is another admissible reason for the ICC to take action.

 


 

Sources

“Human Rights Coalition Calls on ICC to Investigate Role of Chiquita Executives in Contributing to Crimes against Humanity.” Worldwide Movement for Human Rights, www.fidh.org/en/region/americas/colombia/human-rights-coalition-calls-on-icc-to-investigate-role-of-chiquita.

Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague. “Chiquita contributed to Colombian paramilitary crimes, ICC told.” JusticeInfo.net,

http://www.justiceinfo.net/en/justice-reconciliation/33351-chiquita-%E2%80%9Ccontributed%E2%80%9D-to-colombian-paramilitary-crimes,-icc-told.html

UN General Assembly, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (last amended 2010), 17 July 1998, ISBN No. 92-9227-227-6], http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3a84.html

 

 

 

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