Patricia Villa Berger, 2012


Languages spoken: Spanish, English, French, Portuguese
Thesis advisor: Professor Cecile Aptel

The Rome Statute is an innovative instrument in many different aspects. One of them is the creation of the concept of organizational policy as an element of the crime for crimes against humanity. Accordingly, Pre-Trial Chamber II, in the Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situation in the Republic of Kenya, elaborated on the requirements of an organizational policy. The majority opined that this element should be defined according to the “capability of a group to perform acts which infringe on basic human values,” and not according to the formal nature of the group or its level of organization. The Chamber considered that, in some cases, even “purely private criminal organization” could satisfy this requirement. This new language and its interpretation might be opening a new door to expand the applicability of International Criminal Law to other kinds of criminality not addressed under this legal framework until now. However, the issue if far from solved yet. Rather, the following questions remain: What kinds of organization could satisfy the requirement of “organization policy” for crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute? Are prosecutions become easier or more difficult under the concept of “organizational policy”?


Patricia Villa Berger received her Bachelor of Laws from Escuela Libre de Derecho. She received an honorable mention in her professional examination. During her studies, she participated in the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition of American University, once as participant and twice as coach.

Most of her professional experience has been in the public sector. She started working as law clerk in criminal courts of the Mexican Federal Judiciary. Later on, she worked in the Federal Commission for the Implementation of the Criminal Justice Reform (Ministry of Interior), where she participated in the creation of the national training program on the criminal reform and adversarial procedure, and helped in the coordination of several academic and training events about this constitutional amendment. Recently, she worked in the Training Institute of Mexico City’s Attorney in issues related to human rights, criminal reform, and criminal justice. Ms. Villa did an internship at the International Criminal Court (Trial Division) during 2010.

She is currently Associate Researcher at Instituto de Justicia Procesal Penal, A.C. (an NGO started by the Open Society Initiative, focusing on protecting the presumption of innocence during pretrial detention), in Mexico City, Mexico.