[Sinn Fein]

14th November 2002

Clear commitment to refuse International Criminal Court Immunity

Agreements needed - Ó Snodaigh

Sinn Fein Spokesperson on International Affairs Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has criticised the Minister for Foreign Affairs for leaving the door open for Ireland to sign a bilateral agreement with the United States, which would immunize US citizens from the International Criminal Court. Deputy Ó Snodaigh said:

``I asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs to assure this House that Ireland will not enter into a bilateral agreement with any other state to immunise that state s citizens from the International Criminal Court under Article 98 of the Rome Statute, as this would open the door to impunity for acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. But the Minister would not state unequivocally that Ireland will never sign any such agreement.

``Instead Minister Cowen said that he sees no problem with certain unspecified types of bilateral agreements, and merely indicated that the Government OEwill consider any future request to enter into such an agreement OEin the context of the agreed EU position . This is not good enough. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have raised serious concerns about the EU s approach to this issue thus far, and Sinn Fein shares these concerns. Moreover, it is our view that Ireland must take its own position on this issue, separate and apart from the EU, and not fudge it by hiding behind the EU s skirts. Indeed, Ireland should be showing leadership on this issue within the EU by publicly committing to refuse to enter any such agreement with any state, and encouraging the other members to do the same.

``The Irish people voted in favour of the International Criminal Court and against impunity. It is not acceptable for Ireland to participate in the ICC being undermined in any way whatsoever. It is the Minister s responsibility to make a clear commitment that Ireland will not enter into any agreement that will facilitate impunity. Nothing less is acceptable.''

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