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Opt Out System Risks Undermining ICC

LONDON - Allowing states to protect their leaders from prosecution for
the crime of aggression risks undermining the credibility of the
International Criminal Court (ICC), Amnesty International said today,
following the Review Conference in Kampala.

States that met during the two-week Conference, which ended on 11
June, adopted a mechanism that effectively allows them to opt out from
the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, when they commit an
act of aggression.

“Governments have effectively created a two-tier system of
international justice where they can choose to stand above the law,
retreating from the principles established in Rome twelve years ago,”
said Christopher Keith Hall, Senior Legal Adviser at Amnesty

The governments also failed to remove Article 124 of the Rome
Statute, the treaty which established the ICC. This article will
continue to give states the right to declare that the ICC cannot
investigate and prosecute war crimes committed by their nationals for
seven years from the declaration.

Use of weapons that have long been regarded as illegal when conflicts
cross borders is now included in the list of war crimes when the
weapons are used in internal armed conflict, under Article 8 of the Rome
However, in the resolution that adopted this change,
states attempted to exempt nationals of countries that are not party to
the Rome Statute from charges for these crimes when committed in the
territory of state parties.

On a positive note, states from all regions of the world reaffirmed
their commitment to the ICC during the conference’s stock-taking
sessions and they made positive statements about the work of the Court
over the past eight years.

“We have missed an opportunity to strengthen the framework of the
ICC. What we need is for the commitments made in Kampala to be
transformed into concrete action,” said Christopher Keith Hall.


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