Technologies in Criminal Justice for Core International Crimes

This is a Research case at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo; Visiting Fellow at Stanford University; Visiting Professor, Georgetown University; and Co-ordinator of the ICC Legal Tools Project. The author formerly served as Senior Legal Adviser and Chief of the Legal Advisory Section of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor. **Associate Professor in Law and Head of the International Criminal Justice Unit, Human Rights Law Centre, University of Nottingham, one of the Legal Tools Outsourcing Partners ( ***PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham and Senior Research Fellow of the Legal Tools Outsourcing Partners’ Network. 1 International Criminal Court, ‘Legal Tools History’, available at: en/what-are-the-icc-legal-tools/2003–2005/ .

Dr Francesco Dergano
4 min readMar 9, 2021


The Legal Tools of the International Criminal Court (ICC or ‘the Court’) are new technologies which facilitate the administration of criminal justice for atrocities by improving effectiveness and enhancing the capacity of criminal justice institutions to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate core international crimes. This article will introduce the ICC’s Legal Tools before drawing attention to two recent endorsements of the Tools.

It will focus on the adoption of the logic underlying the Case Matrix, one of the Legal Tools, in several decisions of the Pre-Trial andTrial Chambers of the ICC, demonstrating the potential utility of the Legal Tools within the Court.

It will go on to highlight the use of the Legal Tools beyond the ICC and the support of the Legal Tools Project at the Court’s first Review Conference, held in Kampala in June 2010.

The Legal Tools and New Technology

The ICC’s Legal Tools Project utilises the advantages of new technologies in order to tackle issues of access to legal material and difficulties raised by the complexity of cases involving core international crimes.

The ICC’s Legal Tools offer a comprehensive online or electronic knowledge system and provide an expansive library of legal documents and range of research and reference tools.

The Legal Tools were developed with the aim of encouraging and facilitating the efficient and precise practice of criminal justice for core international crimes. Whilst initially created and envisaged for use within the Court, realisation of the value of the Legal Tools as a means of increasing national capacity led to their development for use bya range of external actors.

The LegalTools Project includes three main clusters of services: (i) the Legal Tools Database and Website; (ii) the Digests on the law and evidence of international crimes and modes of liability and means of proof; and (iii) the Case Matrix application for organising and structuring evidence in core international crimes cases. The LegalTools Database andWebsite provide a free, publiclyaccessible platform for the dissemination of legal information relating to the investigation, prosecution, defence and adjudication of serious international crimes.

The Database contains over 44,000 documents, including decisions and indictments from all international and internationalised criminal tribunals, preparatory works of the ICC, jurisprudence and decisions from the ICC, treaties, information about national legal systems and relevant decisions from national courts, which are fully searchable using a state of the art search engine.

The Legal Tools Database also contains a specific search engine which allows users to search specific aspects of national legislation implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court1998 (‘the Statute’). The Elements Digest provides raw data and notes on the elements of crimes as well as the modes of liability contained in the Statute and Elements of Crimes document. The text is drawn from all sources of international law. Relevant sources will be hyperlinked in the Digest to allow users direct access to primary material. The Means of Proof Digest allows users to see the types or categories of evidence that have been used in national and international criminal jurisdictions to satisfy the elements of crimes and modes of liability contained in the Statute. The two Digests can be accessed through the Case Matrix.

In Conclusion

The Case Matrix is a law-driven case management and legal informationapplication developed for the efficient and precise investigation, prosecution, defence and adjudication of international crimes. The Case Matrix allows users to access documents selected from the Legal Tools Database (the ‘Legal texts’ function) as well as access to the Elements and Means of Proof Digests. The application also serves as a database for the organisation of information and evidence relating to core international crimes, tailored to the specific crimes that have been committed and relevant modes of liability.

In addition, it provides a methodology for the investigation and prosecution of international crimes, offering ‘a user’s guide to proving international crimes and modes of liability and [providing] a database service to organise and present the potential evidence in a case’.8 The Case Matrix can be adapted for use by different actors involved in the processing of core international crimes, such as human rights personnel, investigators, prosecutors, defence teams, victims’ representatives, judges and civil society.

Adoption of the Case Matrix Logic by the ICC

In several of its early decisions, both Pre-Trial and Trial Chambers of the ICC have ordered the parties to communicate evidence in the form of an in-depth analysis chart, similar in structure to the framework provided by the evidence management application of the Case Matrix. The requirements issued by the Chambers, and the justifications underlying their orders, can be seenas an endorsement of the Case Matrix logic within the ICC.



Dr Francesco Dergano

CEO of @skydatasol (dormant) — Principal of @kamiwebproject — Lead Research Manager of The Antarctic National Security Framework — Full-Time Student