International Criminal Law

International criminal law is a rapidly evolving area of public international law. It differs from other areas of international law as it concerns the investigation and prosecution of individuals, rather than states.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has powers to try individuals for crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression (also known as crimes against peace). This applies to alleged perpetrators who are members of states that are part of the Rome Statute, or those who have carried out crimes against civilians in other member states.

Several international criminal courts and tribunals have been established to investigate and prosecute these crimes. However, there are complexities that lie within this area of law, which can result in a case being heard in a national court. Failing that, it would trigger the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Stoke White has been working in this area of law since our inception, and we have an in-depth understanding of these complexities.

We have grown an extensive network of contacts and continue to foster close working relationships with other specialist lawyers in this sphere in different parts of the world. This allows us to provide the very best advice to clients who are part of an investigation or international claim related to war crimes.

Stoke White’s International Criminal Law Department

Our International Criminal Law department has a strong history of submitting cases involving heads of state, governments, and individuals. We also partner with NGOs and other stakeholders in several countries working towards the same objective.

Currently we have several ongoing universal jurisdiction applications, as well as applications at the International Criminal Court (ICC), as representatives of individual victims and organisations.

At national level, we have several noteworthy cases in progress, which present arguments at of national and international law, with the objective of strengthening their humanitarian force.

At Stoke White, we meet individually with alleged victims and gather evidence in line with international protocols.

We draft complaints and submit them to the relevant international body and have set new international legal precedents through our pioneering work.

We are committed to helping our clients by pursuing:

• applications under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction
• arrest warrants under Universal Jurisdiction
• the recording of evidence and gathering intelligence on human rights abusers
• Litigation against alleged perpetrators of war crimes
• litigating human rights cases
• requesting asset freezes of perpetrators

Case Study 1

Stoke White undertook to investigate ongoing crimes committed by the Syrian regime and several security agents allied with it.

We contacted victims based in camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, as well as citizens in European Union member states. The firm took detailed statements, investigated the alleged crimes, collected evidence, and in 2019, in a move widely covered by the media, Stoke White filed a criminal case against the Syrian regime and its agents in the International Criminal Court.

In submitting this case on behalf of 28 Syrian refugees to the chief prosecutor of the ICC, Stoke White became the first firm to file a lawsuit against the Syrian government.

We continue to gather evidence from victims in order to bring cases for rape, torture, the use of chemical weapons and other crimes to the attention of the ICC.

Case Study 2

In 2010, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) illegally attacked the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, which was carrying humanitarian aid and hundreds of civilians in international waters.

The audacious attack, which killed 10 innocent humanitarian volunteers on board the Mavi Marmara vessel whilst injuring many others, attracted widespread international criticism.

Stoke White has been on a relentless mission to seek justice for this act of violence against civilians through national and international legal systems. We have done so on behalf of the victims and their families.

The international legal process commenced in May 2013 at the ICC. Following the decision of the ICC Prosecutor in November 2014 not to open an investigation into alleged IDF war crimes, an application for Review was made to the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber. This application resulted in favour of the victims and their families.

The legal process was unnecessarily prolonged by the Prosecutor’s further appeals and received criticism from the ICC judges. Whilst the legal process continued our legal team made submissions in an oral hearing at the request of the ICC.

The hearing was a significant and historical occasion for the complainants and marked history for the ICC.

Our legal team was present at the ICC on September 2019, in which the Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecutor had been in error in making successive appeals against the judgement to review the decision not to investigate the IDF.

The ICC subsequently ordered the Prosecutor to make a decision whether to investigate whether any of the alleged crimes had been committed by the IDF, by December 2019. This was another landmark decision in favour of the victims, and the first of its kind in the history of the ICC.

The hearing was broadcast live on the ICC website and attracted media attention from around the world.

The Appeal’s Chambers decision was another victory for the victims who have long been waiting for justice and for the perpetrators of violence on board the Mavimara almost a decade ago, to be held accountable.

However, the legal process continues.