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Howard Government totally divided on International Criminal Court.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

MEDIA RELEASE

MEDIA ALERT: Press Conference WHERE: Mr Rudd’s Electorate Office 653 Wynnum Road, Morningside WHEN: 2.00PM TODAY

HOWARD GOVERNMENT TOTALLY DIVIDED ON INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Divisions within the Howard Government on Australian ratification of the International Criminal Court statute have deepened today.

Prime Minister Howard has stated in Washington after a briefing from the Bush administration on the ICC that he found administration arguments against ratification “very powerful” - while still stating that he was reserving his position.

Meanwhile, in the red corner in Adelaide, former justice Minister Amanda Vanstone has weighed in arguing that Australia should proceed to ratify the ICC.

Back in the blue corner, National Party leader John Anderson has now stated his side has grave reservations about the ICC (reservations which, incidentally, neither he nor Prime Minister Howard bothered to reflect in their statements to the Parliament, including in Mr Anderson’s key statement on Australia’s United Nations engagement on 5 September 2000).

The only one remaining surprisingly silent in the last day or two on the ICC fiasco is Foreign Minister Downer.

This is the same foreign minister who said at the beginning of his Ministry in 1996 ”I believe an ICC would be an important step forward for the international community in dealing with the most serious crimes of international concern such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. That is why I want to make this one of the Government’s prime multilateral and human rights objectives…”

This is the same foreign minister who said that Australia would introduce legislation ratifying the ICC by the end of 2000.

And the same foreign minister who has dined out across the international community on Australia’s leading role in the negotiation of the Rome Statue in 1998.

Australia must ratify the ICC by 1 July 2002 if we are to participate in the first conference of the parties in September 2002 which will nominate judges, prosecutors as well as determine the Court’s rules of procedure.

Australian diplomatic history will record Mr Downer as one of Australia’s longest serving foreign ministers. His performance on the ICC , among other issues, demonstrates him to be one of our weakest foreign ministers.

Ends 12 June 2002

For further information contact: Kevin Rudd, MP on (07) 3899 4031 or 0418 796 931 or Nore Hoogstad (Advisor) on 0417 605 823