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Government's commitment to ICC in doubt.

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Senator Brian Greig Australian Democrats Law and Justice Spokesperson

20 June 2002 MEDIA RELEASE 02/323

Government’s Commitment to ICC in doubt

Article 120 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court clearly states that no reservations may be made to the Statute, which means the conditions imposed by the Prime Minister in ratifying the International Criminal Court (ICC) may be impermissible, according to the Australian Democrats.

The Prime Minister today said the Government would ensure that “no person can be arrested on a warrant issued by the Court or surrendered to the Court without the consent of the Commonwealth Attorney General”. This appears to be a strong reservation that may prevent the Court from exercising its jurisdiction in certain circumstances.

Democrats’ Law and Justice spokesperson, Senator Brian Greig, says it appears the Government is trying to fool Australians into thinking it is doing the right thing on the ICC.

“It is a key principle of the Rome Statute that the ICC will have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity where domestic legal systems are unable or unwilling to deliver justice. The Government seems to be attempting to undermine this principle,” Senator Greig said.

Senator Greig says if every Government ratifying the Rome Statute were to make a similar declaration, the Court would be hopelessly undermined and completely ineffective.

“How can we have one set of rules for the rest of the world and another for Australia,” Senator Greig said.

“If the ICC is to be effective in prosecuting war criminals, all ratifying states must accept the Court’s jurisdiction.

“The Rome Statute is based on the principle of complementarity which gives precedence to domestic legal systems, and we should not forget that,” Senator Greig said.

The Government’s proposal may also contravene the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which states that no reservations may be made in ratifying a treaty unless the reservation is permitted by the treaty.

Contacts: Senator Brian Greig, 02) 6277 3338 or Di Graham on 0417 177 523