Our Intervention at the 9th ASP Session

Intervention for General Debate of 9th Session of International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties, 6-10 December 2010, New York

New York, 7 December 2010, Honourable Assembly, the Peace and Justice Initiative would first like to thank the Assembly of States Parties and the Secretariat for organising this 9th Session of the ASP and for providing NGOs with an opportunity to contribute to the general debate.

The International Criminal Court targets those bearing the greatest responsibility for the core crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. However, it cannot alone address the large number of atrocities that continue to be perpetrated around the world. It is just one feature of an emerging global justice system, which will rely primarily on domestic efforts to combat impunity through fair trials, under the principle of complementarity. At the historic first Review Conference in Kampala, States Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the Rome Statute and its effective domestic implementation. In the Kampala Declaration States Parties specifically resolved to enhance the capacity of national jurisdictions to prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern in accordance with internationally-recognized fair trial standards, and to ensure full cooperation with the Court, in particular in the areas of implementing legislation, enforcement of Court decisions, execution of arrest warrants, conclusion of agreements and witness protection.

The PJI applauds the achievements of the Court thus far and, at the same time, welcomes the States Parties’ acknowledgement that much work remains to be done, particularly on the domestic front. The PJI emphasizes that adopting domestic implementing legislation is critical for achieving accountability for the core crimes through fair trials and is fundamental to the principle of complementarity. Domestic legislation is also necessary to ensure cooperation with the Court so that that the ICC can fulfil its mandate. In this respect, States Parties must execute arrest warrants and surrender suspects to the Court in accordance with their obligations under Article 86 of the Rome Statute. In order to successfully carry out domestic investigations and fair trials for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, States Parties must ensure that domestic officials, including investigators, prosecutors, judges, and defence counsel are trained and equipped to carry out their work.

Accordingly, the PJI recommends that:

–          States should expedite the adoption of domestic legislation implementing the provisions of the Rome Statute.

–          Pending adoption of such legislation, States should review existing laws to ensure they are ready to arrest and try persons suspected of these crimes (or surrender them if necessary) when such persons are in their territory and should ensure that a legal basis exists in domestic law for prosecutions of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

–          In drafting implementing legislation, States should ensure that the relevant provisions are applicable from the date on which the Rome Statute entered into force, rather than the usual commencement date – when the implementing Act comes into force. Such provision is key to limiting impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community and maximising cooperation with the Court.

–          States should ensure that specialist investigators, prosecutors, judges and defence counsel receive practical training on all aspects of a core crimes case, including elements of the offences, modes of liability including superior responsibility, and procedural issues.

–          States should maintain and publicise statistics on the number of investigations and prosecutions carried out under domestic implementing legislation.

Through these actions, the States Parties can contribute to an effective and comprehensive global justice system. Thank you for your attention.

For more information please contact:

Julie Plavsic (julie.plavsic@peaceandjusticeinitiative.org)

Matthew Gillett (matthew.gillett@ peaceandjusticeinitiative.org)

Vessela Terzieva (vessela.terzieva@peaceandjusticeinitiative.org)

Anna Kotzeva (anna.kotzeva@peaceandjusticeinitiative.org)

Karim Khan (karim.khan@peaceandjusticeinitiative.org)

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