IT HAS been 10 years since Australia signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith welcomed the 10th anniversary in a statement last week, reasserting their support of the Rome Statute’s aims of ensuring that those accused of the most serious crimes of international concern do not go unpunished.
The ICC is currently investigating situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Uganda and the Sudan. It has so far issued 12 warrants for the arrest of people accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Several trials are under preparation by the Court.
In a sign that the ICC is still a force in modern international human rights law, the Court’s Prosecutor has this week requested an arrest warrant be issued against Sudan’s President, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed against the Sudanese people in Darfur.
McClelland said: “Australia attaches the highest importance to the International Criminal Court. Since its existence, all those who commit, encourage or tolerate heinous crimes understand that their actions today may lead to international prosecution tomorrow.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister urged all countries to co-operate with the Court, consistent with their obligations under international law.
“Australia has consistently supported the Court since its establishment,” Smith said. “We continue to play an important role in the administration of the ICC, and in the campaign for universal ratification of the Rome Statute, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.”