Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 01 October, 2003
Written Answers. - International Criminal Court.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh Aengus Ó Snodaigh
242. Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the International Criminal Court including any action taken by the court to date; the person who is the Irish appointment to the Court; if the United States will be immune from the Court; if Ireland has entered or is considering entering into a bilateral immunity agreement with any state; the states that have approached the Government about entering into such an agreement; and the steps that the Government has taken to reverse any existing hostility to the ICC by the US or other countries. [21525/03]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court entered into force on 1 July 2002. To date, 92 states have ratified or acceded to the Statute. An additional 52 states have signed the Statute, although two of these – Israel and the United States of America – have notified the UN Secretary General of their intention not to proceed to ratification.
Since its entry into force, the Assembly of States Parties established by Article 112 of the Statute has met on four occasions. In February 2003 the Assembly elected the 18 judges of the Court, including Judge Maureen Harding Clark, who was nominated by Ireland. In April, the Court's Prosecutor and members of its budget and finance committee were elected and in September the Assembly elected the court's deputy prosecutor and members of the board of directors of the trust fund for the benefit of victims. The Assembly has also adopted the Elements of Crime and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Court and engaged in other tasks entrusted to it by the statute. Ireland is, and will continue to be, an active participant in the Assembly's sessions with a view to ensuring that it fulfils the functions entrusted to it by the Court's Statute.
Since its establishment, the court, which is based in The Hague, has recruited its staff and commenced work on judicial and prosecutorial questions. The judges have established themselves into pre-trial, trial and appeals chambers and are preparing for the commencement of the first cases to be dealt with by the court. Amongst other tasks, the judges are currently engaged in drafting the court's regulations, which will deal with issues such as its composition and administration, proceedings before the court, victims and reparations, the role of defence counsel and detention of suspects and convicted persons. It is hoped that these regulations will be finalised by the end of the year.
An information and evidence unit has been established within the Office of the Prosecutor to receive information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the court, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. By July 2003, 499 communications alleging violations of the Statute had been received from individuals or groups from 66 countries. Of the communications received, some 70% have been deemed inadmissible by the Prosecutor for a variety of reasons; the remainder are being examined on an ongoing basis. The Prosecutor has announced that he is closely following the urgent situation in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo, reports from which raise serious concerns that crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed.
Full details of the work of the court are contained in the first annual report of the court to the Assembly of States Parties and in the addresses made by the President of the Court, Judge Phillipe Kirsch, and the Prosecutor, Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, to the Assembly. Copies of these documents are available on the Court's web-site: http://www.icc-cpi.int/php/news/latest.php.
As the Deputy will be aware, the United States of America has stated its opposition to the exercise by the court of jurisdiction over US nationals and thus has decided not to ratify the court's statute. The statute provides that the court's jurisdiction is, in general, limited to acts committed after its entry into force in the territory of or by nationals of states parties. In addition, the Security Council of the United Nations adopted resolution 1422 (2002) on United Nations Peacekeeping on 12 July 2002. Paragraph 1 of that Resolution requested “consistent with the provisions of Article 16 of the Rome Statute, that the ICC, if a case arises involving current or former officials or personnel from a contributing State not a party to the Rome Statute over acts or omissions relating to a United Nations established or authorised operation, shall for a twelve month period starting 1 July 2002 not commence or proceed with investigation or prosecution of any such case, unless the Security Council decides otherwise”. This resolution was renewed for a further 12 month period commencing on 1 July 2003 by Security Council Resolution 1487 (2003) of 12 June 2003.
Article 98(2) of the court's statute provides that it may not proceed with a request to a state party for surrender to it of a suspect which would require the requested state to act inconsistently with its obligations under international agreements pursuant to which the consent of a sending state is required to surrender a person of that state to the court, unless it can first obtain the co-operation of the sending State for the giving of consent for the surrender.
One country, the United States, has approached the Government about entering into a bilateral non-surrender agreement in relation to the court and a similar approach was made to our EU partners. Following a detailed examination of the text of the proposed US agreement, the Council of the European Union on 30 September 2002 concluded that entering into such an agreement, as drafted, would be inconsistent with the obligations of states parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court under the statute. The Council also adopted guiding principles concerning non-surrender agreements emphasising that any agreement would have to be consistent with the statute and in particular emphasising the need to avoid impunity for perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
In common with our EU partners, the Government is committed to the effective functioning of the International Criminal Court and to preserve the integrity of the Rome Statute. In this regard, it supports efforts to ensure the widest possible ratification and implementation of the statute and the dissemination of the guiding principles. Along with our EU partners, the Government is also committed to developing a broader dialogue between the Union and the United States on all matters relating to the International Criminal Court, including future relations between the United States and the court. During Ireland's forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2004, the Government will have the opportunity to lead the Union's efforts to pursue these important goals.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. International Criminal Court.