On 16 September 2022, a 22-year-old Iranian woman named Mahsa Amini, (Euro News), died in Tehran, Iran, under suspicious circumstances, potentially due to police brutality.

Can The International Court of Justice take action regarding the murder of Mahsa Amini by Iran's police?

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    Do you mean the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court? Both are situated in The Hague (Netherlands) and may be easy to mix up. However, only one of them has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals. What kind of action do you have in mind? A prosecution of some Iranian officials maybe? Commented Sep 29, 2022 at 15:09

1 Answer 1


No, the ICJ does not have jurisdiction for something like this. You can check out the list of cases they dealt with; they are disputes between states. Who'd complain here? Iran against Iran?

Sometimes the UN refers some other cases to the ICJ for advisory opinions, but they at least involved more widespread allegations of human rights violations, albeit more indirectly. A single murder or manslaughter case is very unlikely to reach that bar. In any case, it would be an advisory opinion.

No comment on whether some other cases in Iran, taken together might qualify, since UNGA referrals are themselves somewhat political. There is one example I know of of Sweden claiming universal jurisdiction against an Iranian prison official, but that's not the ICJ who took action.

OTOH you may be confusing ICJ with the ICC, The International Criminal Court, which might have jurisdiction, but again there would probably have to be widespread incidents like this to qualify for an ICC investigation/case. The ICC is much more contested in international affairs. Iran themselves signed but did not ratify the Rome Statute. I'm not too sure what their current position is vis-a-vis of that court, i.e. whether they'd be remotely cooperative with an ICC investigation (esp. since the US doesn't have the best of records on that.)

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    Not convinced that the ICC would have jurisdiction either. Basically, the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes and genocide, especially those endorsed by the state in question, and there is no indication that the death of this woman in Iran was consistent with Iranian policy, even if it happens because the officials involved were not adequately controlled by a means that would have prevented the death from happening.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Oct 1, 2022 at 22:34

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