FIDH Urges States Parties to the ICC Statute to reaffirm their commitment to fight impunity


Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to Start Today in The Hague

122 States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will gather this week in The Hague for its 12th annual meeting. The ASP will discuss the status of Heads of States, victims’ rights, cooperation and issues related to the governance of the ICC.

This session will take place in the midst of serious threats to the core mandate of the ICC, led by the Kenyan government. This campaign has gathered the support of some countries within the African Union. [1] In this environment, States Parties must remain committed to fight impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and to support justice for victims of atrocities.

The African Union and Kenya requested a special segment of the General Debate under the title: "Indictment of sitting Heads of State and Government and its consequences on peace, stability and reconciliation". This discussion will take place on 21 November. FIDH insists that, under international law, immunities for international crimes are not to be recognised at an international criminal tribunal.

"States should avoid double standards in guaranteeing justice for victims of atrocities that, as the Rome Statute recalls, shake the conscience of humankind" , said Paulina Vega, FIDH Vice President.

Any amendments to the legal framework should seek only to improve ICC proceedings, the international system of justice and the rule of law. States should not be tempted to change international norms as a rushed short-term solution to a specific political issue.

FIDH has received with alarm the news that the accused William S. Ruto, current Deputy-President of Kenya [2], might be leading its delegation and, due to his seniority, may be the first to speak at the General Debate of the ASP. While recognizing the presumption of innocence as a fundamental right, the presence of the accused person in a gathering of the States that created the Court, at a time when his government is conducting a strategy to tailor responses to his case and the one of his superior, is a clear act of defiance that may affect the legitimacy of the proceedings and the credibility of the Court among affected communities.

This year, States Parties will also devote an important part of its plenary session to discuss Victims´ Rights under the session "Beyond Kampala: reaffirming the value of the victims’ mandate of the Rome Statute System". FIDH calls upon States to send a strong message of their commitment to stand next to victims in their demands of justice for the most heinous crimes, a message as loud as to reach the affected communities far from The Hague that convey a sign of hope on international justice as a last resort to achieve justice. The ASP Plenary is an ideal moment for States Parties and the Court to recognise the benefits that victims’ participation in the proceedings bring for victims themselves, for the legitimacy of the Court, and the fulfilment of the object and purpose of the Rome Statute and its centrality to international justice as a whole.

To contribute to this discussion, FIDH issued a report entitled "Enhancing Victims’ Rights Before the ICC - A View from Situation Countries on Victims’ Rights at the International Criminal Court".

"Victims views expressed in the courtroom provide judges with invaluable information about the crimes committed and the damage they caused. It is the duty of States to guarantee that the exercise of their rights before the ICC is meaningful" , stressed Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President.

This year the Court has requested an important increase in its budget for 2014, in light of the growing workload of the Court. More situations and cases obviously demand an increase in the prosecutorial and judicial activities, with the corresponding support needs. States should provide the Court the resources it needs and consider the impact of any reduction on the proposed budget in the capacity of the ICC, and its organs, to fulfill its mandate.

"States parties have an obligation to contribute to the Court so it can have the capacity to fulfill its mission” , said Sheila Muwanga, Vice-President of FIDH. "Such support should be translated in providing funding, judicial cooperation and political backing" .

FIDH will be present with a delegation led by its Vice President, Paulina Vega, and representatives from member organisations from Kenya and Sudan. FIDH and the Kenya Human Rights Commission will organise a side event on Saturday 23 November: "Kenya and the ICC: Ensuring Redress for Victims and Upholding the Rule of Law”. FIDH will co-chair a meeting with GRULAC States on cooperation on Friday 22 November. The same day FIDH will also take the floor during a plenary meeting on victims. On Monday 25 November FIDH will participate in the Panel “Ensuring the voice of victims: Legal aid and Victims”.

FIDH has published a position paper addressing the different subjects to be discussed by states at this ASP as well as recommendations on how they should approach these issues.

See the speech of Paulina Vega, FIDH Vice-President, to the 12th Assembly of States Parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court.

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