Subject: JP: Indonesia in no hurry to sign ICC accord with U.S.
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
The Jakarta Post Thursday, March 18, 2004
Indonesia in no hurry to sign accord with U.S.
Veeramalla Anjaiah and Adianto P. Simamora, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesia will be in no hurry to sign a bilateral accord known as an Article 98 agreement with the U.S. as Jakarta has not yet ratified the Rome Statute (also known as the Rome Treaty) on the International Criminal Court (ICC), Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said.
"The problem is we just signed the Rome Treaty but have not yet ratified it. That means we are not yet a part of it. How can we give something (the signing of an Article 98 agreement) that we don't even have," Hassan said in reply to a query from The Jakarta Post on Wednesday in Jakarta.
The problem surfaced when a visiting senior U.S. official told the media in Jakarta on Tuesday that Washington was trying to convince the world's largest Muslim nation to sign a bilateral agreement with the world's only superpower.
"The U.S. considers Indonesia to be an important country. We have excellent cooperation with Indonesia in the war against terrorism. There are 85 countries, including Brunei and East Timor, that have already signed Article 98 agreements with the U.S. We expect Indonesia will also sign such an agreement," the official said during a background briefing on the U.S. proliferation security initiative (PSI).
The so-called Article 98 agreements, which vary from country to country, have been designed solely for the purpose of providing U.S. individuals or groups of people with immunity from the ICC.
But Indonesia is still examining whether the U.S. will reciprocate in the case of Indonesian citizens.
"We have to ask the U.S. what will happen if any Indonesian citizens are brought before the ICC, will the U.S. do the same or not?," Hassan said.
Indonesia, according to Hassan, was still looking into the effectiveness of the ICC, and considering the fact that key nations like China, Russia, Japan and India have signed neither the Rome Treaty nor Article 98 Agreements with the U.S.
"Why should we be in a hurry to sign an Article 98 agreement with the U.S.?" Hassan asked.
The ICC, which became effective on July 1, 2002, is an international tribunal specifically established to investigate and prosecute people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.
By the end of 2003, more than 135 countries, including Indonesia, had signed the Rome Treaty, and 89 countries had ratified it.
Countries that have ratified the treaty are obliged to comply with requests by the ICC to arrest and surrender persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
States that have signed the Rome Statute are obliged by international law not to take any steps that would undermine the Statute.
Being a UN tribunal, the ICC has global jurisdiction.
The U.S., which signed the Rome Treaty in 2000 under the Clinton Administration, and then nullified its own signature in 2002 under Bush, has come under fire from human rights groups, including Amnesty International, for its fierce opposition to, and its efforts to undermine, the ICC.
According to the U.S., the ICC could be used to bring politically motivated prosecutions against U.S. nationals. But the rights groups say there are enough safeguards and fair trial guarantees contained in the Rome Treaty to prevent such a situation
Despite the U.S.'s all-out efforts -- involving a combination of persuasion and pressure -- to undermine the new international justice system, the ICC has nevertheless been established. Its 18 judges -- distinguished jurists from 18 different countries -- were selected last year.
The ICC cannot deal with crimes committed before July 2002, providing relief to various local and foreign human rights violators who committed crimes against humanity before 2002.
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