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Lithuania 90th State To Sign Up Int Criminal Court

Lithuania Becomes 90th State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Every EU Member State and All But One EU Accession State Has Ratified

(New York, May 15, 2003) - The world's first permanent court capable of trying individuals accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide gained its 90th state party when Lithuania deposited its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday. Every Baltic state, European Union member state and all but one European Union (EU) accession state, namely the Czech Republic, has formally joined the ICC's Assembly of States Parties.

"The completion of the ratification process by Lithuania, as a nation slated for accession to the European Union next year, further strengthens EU solidarity in support of the ICC," said Ms. Irune Quijera-Aguirrezabal, European Coordinator of the NGO Coalition for the ICC. She added, "We are aware from news reports that Lithuania is under pressure from the United States government to agree never to turn U.S. nationals or contractors over to the court. We urge them not to sign these agreements."

Since the Bush administration renounced the Clinton administration's signature of the Rome Statute last May, the United States has waged a multi-pronged campaign against the ICC. Most recently, the U.S. has approached countries - both States Parties and non-States Parties to the Rome Statute - around the world to request the signature of bilateral immunity agreements. Media reports and government sources indicate that a number of countries in Eastern Europe, have been threatened with the loss of U.S. military assistance should they resist signature.

In August 2002, the European Union issued a set of "guiding principles" indicating its findings that the U.S. immunity agreements are contrary to numerous international laws including the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute, which 139 nations have signed. All 15 EU member states have resisted pressure to sign these agreements; the European Union has encouraged its candidate countries to do the same.

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NB: The following resources are available online:

A chronology of U.S. opposition to the ICC: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-AMICC-USStrategyPostNull.pdf

Questions & Answers about U.S. so-called "Article 98" or Bilateral Immunity Agreements: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-CICC-BIAs.pdf

Questions & Answers about ICC Implementing Legislation: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-CICC-Implementation.pdf

Questions & Answers about the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities: http://www.iccnow.org/pressroom/factsheets/FS-CICC-P&IAgreement.pdf

A translation of the Rome Statute in Lithuanian on the Council of Europe's website: http://legal.coe.int/icc/Default.asp?fd=docs&fn=Docs.htm

About the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court

The NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Coalition) is a global network of over 2,000 members working together in support of an permanent, fair and effective International Criminal Court. Established in 1995, the Coalition is the leading online provider of information on the ICC. For more information, please visit http://www.iccnow.org.

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