Message-Id: <>
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 97 08:27:13 CDT
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: Establishing a World Criminal Court
Article: 16558

/** reg.easttimor: 688.0 **/
** Topic: RT: World Criminal Court **
** Written 4:04 PM Aug 18, 1997 by in cdp:reg.easttimor **

Main issues in establishing world criminal court

Reuter, 18 August 1997 01:28 AEST

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 17 (Reuter)—Following are key issues under negotiation by an inter-governmental committee working toward creating the world's first permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). A five-week treaty conference is expected to be held in Rome next June.


The court is to deal with serious war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Some nations, such as Germany, want to add aggression. Others have suggested terrorism and drug trafficking. Many states, including the United States and Britain, prefer national courts to handle.


The word complementarity has been used to define the relationship of the new court to national courts. The ICC is to complement national justice systems and step in when a state is unwilling or unable to prosecute. Progress has been made in spelling out criteria for failures of national courts. Still unresolved are the role of amnesty laws, such as adopted in South Africa or El Salvador.


A draft statute precludes the prosecutor from initiating an investigation unless a situation has been referred by a Security Council or a government. Many nations would give the prosecutor the power to initiate cases. Others want cases to be initiated only by governments and to procced only with the consent of those nations affected.


The draft gives the Council the power to prevent prosecutions and trials of conflicts under consideration by the 15-member body. In effect this would give its five permanent membersthe United States, Britain, France, Russia and Chinaveto rights over cases to the court. Most states oppose such restrictions by the Council.


Countries are considering rules of evidence and procedures, pre-trial detention, rights of the accused, evidence, protection of victims and witnesses. Definitions on sexual assault, rape and the general investigation of sex crimes against women are to be included.


The U.N. General Assembly has set June 1998 for a high-level conference in Rome to draw up an international treaty that governments must sign and ratify to create the court. A preparatory committee will deliberate again in New York in December and in March.

The proposed new court is separate from the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which deals with disputes between nations. It is meant to build on the ad hoc tribunals created since 1945 and thereby deal with war criminals or perpetrators of genocide on a permanent basis.