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New action urges Jamaica to support ICC

New action urges Jamaica to support ICC

Amnesty International launches new action for Jamaica to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International has today launched a website action calling on Jamaican Prime Minister P J Patterson to Ratify the Rome Statue for the International Crimiminal Court.

The action is available on Amnesty International's wesite:

Jamaica, as a key supporter of the establishment of the Court since 1989, should join other Caribbean states in completing the ratification process as soon as possible, Amnesty International stressed.

Jamaica signed the Rome Statute on 8 September 2000, indicating its intention to ratify the treaty. However, to date, Jamaica has not yet done so. In July 2003, during the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting, Jamaica said it would ratify expeditiously.

In order to ratify the treaty, the government will need to enact legislation allowing theJamaican courts to exercise their primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and to provide full cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty International is concerned that the process of preparing implementing legislation has not yet started. We hope that the government will begin to draft such legislation in line with the Amnesty International paper, The International Criminal Court: Checklist for Effective Implementation in a transparent process involving a broad consultation with civil as soon as possible and complete it as a priority.

In the past half century, millions of victims of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes have been denied justice and reparations. The Rome Statute creates a new system of international justice to end this injustice and to send a clear message to those planning such horrific crimes that they will no longer enjoy impunity for their actions.

The Court requires the support of the whole international community. We, therefore, encourage the Jamaican people and all the peoples of the Caribbean region to take part in this action calling on Jamaica to ratify the Rome Statute as soon as possible. In doing so, they will be joining the struggle to end impunity for these horrific crimes forever.

Background Information

In 1989, Trinidad and Tobago, supported by other Caribbean states, started the process to create the Court by calling on the United Nations General Assembly to take steps towards establishing a permanent international criminal court to deal with crimes under international law, as well as drug trafficking.

The Rome Statute, adopted on 17 July 1998, provides that the Court will have initial jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. States that have ratified the Rome Statute will meet in 2009 to consider adding additional crimes, including drug trafficking, to the jurisdiction of the Court.

The International Criminal Court relies on states that have ratified the Rome Statute to investigate and prosecute people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in their national courts. The Court will only step in when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

The International Criminal Court, located in The Hague in The Netherlands, is in the process of becoming fully operational. Since the Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, took office in June 2003, he has announced that he is conducting a preliminary examination into crimes committed in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to determine whether to commence a full investigation. It is reported that over three million people have been killed during the long conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Recently, the Human Rights Minister has stated that the Court's focus on the region has had a pronounced deterrent effect on the action of armed groups in Ituri.

The Prosecutor also announced in January that he is taking steps to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the context of the conflict in northern Uganda involving the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) armed group. The conflict has resulted in the massive displacement of the population, arbitrary killings, maimings, abductions and forced recruitment, in particular of child soldiers. The Prosecutor has stated that the investigation will include the murder of over 190 people in the Barlonya Camp on Saturday 21 February 2004.

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