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Bill will protect Intl. Criminal Court staff

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

24 June 2003

Bill will protect International Criminal Court staff

A bill setting out the privileges and immunities that judges and staff of the International Criminal Court (ICC) would have while working in New Zealand was introduced to Parliament today by Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

The ICC is the world's first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of the most serious violations of international humanitarian law, namely genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

"The ICC's judges and prosecutor were elected earlier this year. Now the court is poised to begin operating, countries like New Zealand must ensure that its staff have the protection needed to work without interference,” Mr Goff said.

"While it is unlikely that the ICC would ever sit in New Zealand, it is possible that investigators might wish to question witnesses here about events elsewhere."

The Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Amendment Bill provides for Orders in Council to be made under the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act, similar to those already covering bodies like the International Court of Justice.

Passage of the bill will also allow New Zealand to ratify the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the ICC.

“The privileges and immunities will be provided in the best interests of the ICC. They are not for the personal benefit of the individuals concerned, and can be waived," Mr Goff said.

"The ICC was set up in response to an international sense of frustration that too often those guilty of the worst crimes are not held to account, and New Zealand's strong support is based on our commitment to ending such impunity.

"The aim now is to deter these crimes but in the event they do occur, the ICC, as a permanent court, will have the resources to respond quickly as time is often of the essence in collecting and preserving evidence," Mr Goff said.

All Phil Goff’s media releases and speeches are posted at www.beehive.govt.nz

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