ICC Complaint Calls Out Director General of WHO for “Crime Against Humanity”

On May 29, 2020, in view of the current Coronavirus pandemic, the Canadian Institute for International Law Expertise (CIFILE) filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court(ICC). The complaint is against some influential world leaders including the Director General of the World Health Organisation(WHO). It claims that the authorities have concealed vital pandemic information from the people.

The complaint also emphasises that the authorities and the WHO caused considerable delay in communicating information about the outbreak. As a result, thousands of uncertain deaths and health problems are burdening several nations. The obliqueness of the authority reports, also resulted in world economic crisis; predicted to be much worse than the Great Depression.

Contents of the Complaint

The complaint urges the office of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to commence the investigation of the situation. This would create a clear vision for the authority to prosecute more than one persons mentioned in the complaint.

As a part of the complaint, CIFILE mentioned that at the beginning of outbreak, the Director General of WHO had to notify nations about the seriousness, well before March 11, 2020 notification date. It claimed that the alleged crimes come under the ambit of Article 7 (k) of the Rome Statute. Furthermore, under Article 7(k), COVID-19 related crimes will be “crimes against humanity”. Notably, ICC can exercise its jurisdiction under Article 12 and 13 of the Statute since its members have been affected by the crimes.

The complaint allegedly highlights the untimely, inaccurate and uncertain information resting with the WHO from different countries. The Director General of WHO failed to comply with his international obligations. This entitled them to the alleged crimes and bodily, mental and environmental damages. The complaint also requests the Prosecutor of ICC  to compensate the victims of the crimes.

Earlier, in a similar allegation, the US state of Missouri filed a suit in late-April against China for causing the COVID-19 pandemic. Several scholars across the world have evaluated the success of different lawsuits against the authorities charged with similar allegations. Yet, it is still unsure whether the courts will take a faster course of action to assess the lawsuits amidst the lockdown.