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NZ Must Reject US Request For War Crimes Impunity

NZ Must Reject US Request For Impunity For War Crimes

Monday 3 September 2002

Amnesty International today called on the Government to reject a US request that it sign an agreement to give US nationals impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The New Zealand Government has been approached by the US Government as part of a worldwide campaign requesting that it sign an agreement providing that New Zealand will not surrender or transfer US nationals to the new International Criminal Court.

"New Zealand played an instrumental role in the establishment of the International Criminal Court ? the Government must now act to prevent the Court unravelling as a result of the US Government's campaign," said Amnesty International's NZ director, Ced Simpson.

"These agreements aim to undermine and weaken a new international system being created by the international community to end impunity for the worst crimes known to humanity."

"As a state party to the Rome Statute establishing the Court, New Zealand is obliged under international law to comply with requests by the International Criminal Court to arrest and surrender persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. New Zealand would be violating its obligations under international law if it signed the impunity agreement sought by the US," Mr Simpson said.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of 27 August 2002, 78 states had ratified it; 139 states have signed it. It is expected that the Court will be operational in the first half of 2003.

The USA has been the only state actively to oppose the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Since the adoption of the Rome Statute in July 1998, the US has sought an exemption for US nationals from the jurisdiction of the Court.

Amnesty International, other NGOs and governments, including the New Zealand Government, have repeatedly argued that US fears that the Court could be used for politically motivated prosecutions against US nationals have no basis since the Rome Statute contains substantial safeguards and fair trial guarantees that it is extremely unlikely that such a situation would arise.

Ends

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