This summer, the International Criminal Court makes its way to prime time television. The new show Crossing Lines comes from the writer and executive producer of both Criminal Minds and Third Watch. An international police drama, Crossing Lines focuses on a global team of police working with the ICC to track down the world’s worst criminals. Main character Louis Daniel, seemingly loosely based on former Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, leads the team on its missions. With the tagline, “a world without borders needs justice without borders,” the show seems to want to be a beacon for global justice.
However, a few red flags immediately went up for me in the trailer as it showed the team in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Berlin. At this point in time there is not a single case under investigation by the court in any of those countries. In fact, not a single European country is under investigation. Of the 18 cases and 8 situations that have been brought before the court, every single one is on the continent of Africa (a matter of concern for some in Africa including the African Union). Preliminary investigations do include other regions, but not Europe. One wonders the creator’s reasoning behind choosing Europe as the focus and not Africa. Perhaps attempting to make the series more relatable for European and American audiences?
There has been talk throughout the years of a need for some sort of police/military squadron to assist the ICC in making arrests. One of the court's major setbacks is in member states' failure to arrest and turn over war criminals. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has continually visited Chad, an ICC member state, without fear of arrest. Bosco Ntaganda is only in custody because he chose to turn himself in. Implementing arrest warrants is a problem for the ICC, which makes the premise of Crossing Lines very interesting. It is quite possible that popularity of a show of this nature could push talks forward on how to further empower the ICC in its fight for justice.
At this point, there is not a great deal of information available about the series. One can only speculate whether it will honestly depict the ICC, or be another Zero Dark Thirty, which was cinematically well done but struggled greatly with accuracy. I tend to think it will be well made but atrociously inaccurate. The question is, even if it is filled with factual discrepancies, can it still serve as a reminder to the American public that the ICC does exist and that it plays an important role? We will soon find out.
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ICC, Television, Bosco Ntaganda, Omar al-Bashir, Culture