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Estonian Considers Effective International Criminal Court to be Important Protector of Human Rights


No. 27-E

At his meeting in Tallinn today with chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno-Ocampo and Fatou Bensouda, the current deputy prosecutor of the ICC who will take over the role of chief prosecutor in June 2012, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that high-level political and diplomatic support as well as effective co-operation among countries are necessary for the court to function successfully.

Paet said that political support is essential in, for example, fulfilling arrest warrants and achieving global jurisdiction for the court. "As a way to increase political support, we support the creation of an ICC support group at the level of the ministers of justice and foreign affairs and are ready to participate in such a group," he stated. "Estonia also feels it is important to bring up this topic with its Nordic and Baltic colleagues within the framework of NB8 co-operation," he added.

According to Paet, positive examples of co-operation with the court have helped to increase the international community's trust in the ICC. "One such example is the transfer of former president of Côte d'Ivoire Laurent Gbagbo to the court," he said. Paet added that the International Criminal Court is not just a legal institution. "In the long-term perspective, the work of the court will help to prevent new crimes against humanity from being committed and reduce the occurrence of crimes going unpunished," Paet noted.

During their meeting, Paet also spoke to prosecutors Moreno-Ocampo and Bensouda about the ongoing investigations of the court. The ICC prosecutors are currently carrying out investigations in seven countries - Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan, Libya, and Kenya - and eight court cases are at various stages. "We await the verdict in the ICC's first case, in which militia commander Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is being accused of committing crimes against humanity and using child soldiers," said Paet.

Estonia has been a supporter of the ICC since its inception. On 12 December 2011 the ICC Assembly of States Parties in New York elected Estonian representative Tiina Intelmann as the president of the assembly. For the next three years Tiina Intelmann will lead the work of the ICC member states as a special representative of the ICC and mediate negotiations related to the court's functioning.

Genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes all fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. The ICC begins proceedings when domestic courts are not able to or do not wish to put the perpetrators of these crimes on trial. The court may also begin proceedings at the request of the UN Security Council. In accordance with the decision made at the Review Conference of the Rome Statute held last year in Uganda, as of 2017 the court will also be able to prosecute crimes of aggression. The International Criminal Court is based in The Hague. The court's 18 judges and prosecutors are selected by the member states.

Today 121 countries have joined the Rome Statute that is the basis for the ICC, including all of South America, most of Europe, and almost half of Africa.

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