[Sinn Fein]

1st October 2002

1st October 2002

Ó Snodaigh - ICC immunity agreements ``adamantly opposed''

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has reiterated his call on the Irish Government to state clearly and unequivocally that it will not enter into any bilateral agreement with the US that will exempt its nationals from the jurisdiction of the new International Criminal Court.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``Sinn Fein welcomes the creation of the International Criminal Court. We are adamantly opposed to the current attempts to ensure that US nationals are exempt from ICC jurisdiction. We are also opposed to the EU's compromise on this issue.

``We would agree with EU Commissioner Chris Patten that the idea that the ICC is an assault on the US is `perverse'. The ICC is complementary to national courts, and is restricted from prosecuting `common crime' - even where such crimes are committed by state troops. The ICC will not be retrospective, and investigations can only proceed after a pretrial chamber has determined there is reasonable basis for action. Under current provisions, the Council can also decide to block prosecutions for fixed periods under Article 16 of the UNSC ICC Statute. In short, there is no valid reason for the US to seek immunity from this court. There are adequate safeguards in place.

``Sinn Fein believes that all states should refuse to enter into any agreement that allows any state authorities not to fulfil their obligations under international law. Our best information is that the proposed bilateral agreements are unlawful under international law. Ireland must not cooperate in impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. That is what is at risk in the proposed bilateral agreement.

``Last week, I asked Minister for Europe Dick Roche whether he and Minister Cowen could assure the Irish people unequivocally that Ireland will NOT enter into a bilateral agreement with the US - or any other country - to exempt that country's nationals from ICC jurisdiction under Article 98.2. His answer was evasive, and that is not just good enough. Given that the EU has now decided to compromise on this issue, we need immediate clarification on the Irish position as a matter of urgency.''

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