Afghanistan Becomes 89th ICC State Party
Afghanistan Signs Up for the International Criminal Court War Crimes in Afghanistan May Now Be Tried Before the ICC
(New York, February 10, 2003) - Afghanistan, a country whose recent history has been characterized by military occupation, civil strife and systematic abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law, today deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), becoming the 89th member of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC. Afghanistan's accession to the Rome Statute follows the ratification of Albania on January 31, and brings to 12 the number of Asian States supporting the world's first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
"Afghanistan is a nation that has suffered enormously from war crimes committed by the militias of other nations and by military rebels and terrorists from within. Afghanistan's accession amidst great pressure to the contrary is a further marking of hope and commitment to democracy and justice," said William Pace, Convenor of the global Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC).
In a statement made following the approval of Afghanistan's accession to the Rome Statute at the national level, President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, Mr. Sayed Fazel Adkbar, said, "Afghanistan is an independent country and we feel it is in our interest to work with the [International Criminal] CourtŠAfghanistan wants to be part of the international community and engage with the international community."
Although unable to address crimes committed before the July 1, 2002 entry into force of the Rome Statute, the ICC will serve as a powerful deterrent from the commission of future gross human rights abuses. "This is a historic day for Afghanistan," said Richard Dicker, Director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, a CICC steering committee member. "It means that those warlords accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the future could be held to account before the ICC. Afghanistan's accession underscores the role for the ICC," he said.
The jurisdiction of the ICC is complementary to that of national courts and may only be invoked when States are unable or unwilling to genuinely carry out investigations or prosecutions of alleged crimes.
The establishment of the ICC took a major step forward last week when the Assembly of States Parties elected the first 18 judges to the Court. The judges will be sworn in during an inaugural ceremony on March 11 in The Hague, the Netherlands, where a provisional office and staff have been operating since the date of the ICC treaty's entry into force.
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