On 9 April 2018, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed a request seeking the composition of a Pre-Trial Chamber, in order to decide whether the Court has territorial jurisdiction over the Rohingya deportation from Myanmar to Bangladesh as a crime against humanity. This filing is a first for the Court on at least two fronts; it is the first time the Prosecutor has asked the Court to interpret Article 12(2)(a) and apply qualified territoriality; it is also the first time the Prosecutor has asked for a ruling on jurisdiction under Article 19(3).
This study explores certain procedural questions emerging from this request, such as the Court’s authority to decide while its jurisdiction is ‘dormant’; the function of Article 19(3) within the Rome Statute’s overall system concerning jurisdictional determinations; issuing a decision on jurisdiction, while avoiding prejudice to subsequent proceedings and without rendering meaningless the right to challenge jurisdiction under Article 19(2) of the Statute. The article accepts that the request is a step in the right direction, as it signals the Prosecutor’s determination to investigate the Rohingya crisis. However, the manner and timing of its presentation give rise to plausible claims of incompatibility with the Court’s procedural framework. Arguably, the Court may well instruct the Prosecutor to assume the risk of wasting precious resources and proceed with further investigations, pending the final determination of the jurisdictional question at a later stage.