ICC to Prosecute Cyber War Crimes

The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) lead prosecutor Karim Khan has announced that the ICC will begin prosecuting cyber war crimes in the same way that kinetic and physical war crimes are.

The ICC is in an international court that investigates and, where possible and warranted, tries individuals who are accused and charged of some of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community such as the crime of aggression, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. In it’s endeavours the court aims to hold individuals who are responsible for such crimes accountable and to help prevent future crimes from occurring. The ICC aims to complement domestic national courts rather than replace them and as such it alone cannot achieve such goals.

Cyber war crimes involve acts whereby individuals from a nation-state attempt to infiltrate other nations computers and networks to cause a disruption or some type of damage.

The Hague, which hosts the ICC, has recognised that cyber war crimes have significant real-world consequences as it is a rapidly developing form of warfare that can be misused to carry out or help facilitate other war crimes and the aggression of one nation to another. As such, the ICC will begin, as part of its investigations, to collect and review evidence of this kind of conduct.

Under the Geneva Convention, a form of humanitarian law that regulates the conduct of armed conflict and aims to limit its effects, attacks against civilians constitute war crimes which forms the basis upon which many scholars and researchers in the area have pushed for cyber crimes to be recognised.

In fact, Ukraine has been calling for cyber crime to be considered a war crime as the Victor Zhora, the nation’s Chief Digital Transformation Officer, has stated that Russia has used these types of attacks to support their kinetic attacks which have been targeted towards civilians. It is noted that the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine has already been collecting evidence to back up their claims and form a strong case.

As of yet, there has been no confirmation as to when these changes will come into effect. In a world where we all see the continuous and quick advancement of technology, it will be interesting to observe how the ICC and nations around the world begin managing such claims and cases.

If you or someone you know wish to discuss this issue further, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8999 9809.

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