Prosecuting the criminals of my country

Prosecuting the criminals of my country

In short
Last update3 oct. 2022

What is it?

A State can prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes, wherever those have been committed and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrators or victims. This is called "universal jurisdiction". It complements the action of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In France, "universal jurisdiction" requires that the suspected persons live in France and that they have committed abroad:

  • a genocide;
  • other crimes against humanity *;
  • war crimes and offenses *.

* if the acts are punished by the law of the state where they were committed or if that state, or the state of which the suspected person is a national, comes under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Good to know: The law provides that these crimes are "imprescriptible". This means that there is no time limit for trying them and that prosecution can still take place, even many years after the fact.

Who is it for?


France entière


France entière

What to do?


Identify a perpetrator of crimes against humanity or war crimes living in France

In addition to genocide and war crimes, crimes against humanity targeted by "universal jurisdiction" are, for example:

- murder;

- enslavement;

- deportation or forced transfer of population;

- torture ;

- rape, forced prostitution or any other form of sexual violence;

- persecution of any group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds;

- enforced disappearance, ...


Contact a lawyer, a committed NGO or an association to take legal action

The legal advisor contacted will be able to help you check whether you are entitled to file a complaint and support you in your approach.

You can contact a "thematic" NGO (eg: Amnesty International ) or one more specialized in the country of origin.

For example, the Syria Justice and Accountability Center (SJAC) supports victims of crimes committed in Syria. This NGO offers a translated guide to easily understand universal jurisdiction in France:
> see the guide in French
> see the guide in English
> see the guide in Arabic

You can contact SJAC at

In France, there are also specialized associations such as the French Association for the Promotion of Universal Competence (AFPCU).
> Here is the link to the website of this association.

And after?

Leave it to the French justice

The prosecution of these crimes can only be exercised at the request of the anti-terrorist public prosecutor and if no international or national court requests the surrender or extradition of the person.

French justice will therefore ensure the absence of prosecution by the ICC and verify that no other international court that is competent to judge the person has requested their surrender and that no other state has requested his extradition.

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