Al Faqi Al Mahdi case and prosecution of destruction of cultural property cases before international criminal courts

International Criminal Law lunch with Dr. Agnieszka Jachec-Neale, School of Law, University of Exeter

On 26 September 2015 Niger transferred Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi to International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges for intentionally directing attacks against nine mausoleums and Sidi Yahia mosque in Timbuktu. This case is a first case for the ICC, in which it will deal with war crimes of intentionally directing attacks against historic monuments by an Islamist militant during a non-international armed conflict. This case is also significant because it will involve a consideration of such prohibited acts during non-international armed conflicts. As it was indicated in earlier ICTY case law international criminal responsibility (cases of Strugar and Brdjanin) for destruction of cultural property can only attach to the unlawful conduct of directing attacks against the protected objects without military necessity. Accordingly ICC will have to consider whether the cultural property at the time of attack constituted a protected civilian object or a lawful target (military objective) in accordance to requirements of international humanitarian law. This may not always be easy to ascertain and several factors may need to be take in to account during such analysis. Other bases for international criminal responsibility can involve war crimes of disproportional attack, war crime of unlawful acts of hostility and pillage.

In this presentation, Jachec-Neale will analyse the newest case of destruction of cultural property pending before ICC and the prospective options for prosecution of the crimes of destruction of cultural property resulting from currently ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq.


Pluricourts holds a monthly international criminal law (ICL) lunch, where an invited ICL expert gives a presentation on a topic of their choice, followed by questions from the audience. The aim is to provide a wide-ranging lecture series, giving varied insights into what is happening within the field of ICL today. We invite speakers from different backgrounds, and have had presentations from Norwegian- based and international academics, as well as speakers from local agencies who work with ICL-related issues, such as Kripos and the Norwegian Red Cross. The lunches also function as a meeting point for those who are interested in ICL, allowing for ideas to be exchanged and developed. They are open to the public, and are attended by staff, students and those working in ICL in the Oslo area.

Tags: Criminal law
Published Apr. 25, 2016 2:10 PM - Last modified May 8, 2018 8:15 AM