American Expert Benjamin Ferencz Warns Super Powers On ICC Amendments

An American expert on crimes against humanity has warned the 'big nations' of dire consequences in the near future if they play tricks to fail adoption of the crime of aggression in the Rome Statute.

Mr Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor during the 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal trials that brought to book top Nazi war criminals, hit at his own nation [USA] and Russia and China that are opposed to the making of crime of aggression triable by the International Criminal Court that the court of opinion will judge them harshly.

"This is the time all nations in the world should come in full support of the crime of aggression to be part of crimes tried by ICC so that we put to past impunity and open a new chapter to accountability. A country should not commit crimes for its own benefit thinking no one will question it," said Mr Ferencz.

Mr Ferencz, 91, who served in the US army during the Second World War but came out unscathed, said the Nazi government committed genocide to exterminate the Jews in German but were later made to account for the six million deaths they caused when the Nuremberg Tribunal came into force.

"In 1998 during the establishment of the Rome Statute, the big nations delayed inclusion of the crime of aggression on the list of crimes tried by ICC because they felt that they would dodge it and make it die out completely. They set up conditions that they felt would never be met," said Mr Ferencz.

He added: "They wanted that the crime of aggression defined and wanted to be sure that the UN Security Council will run the show when ICC was implementing it. But the definition had long been made. The trick behind all this is that the big countries are still in the cold war. No big nation trusts the other on how it will be handled in case it became party to the Rome Statute and when is fully implemented."

The Second World War ex-serviceman was addressing journalists at the ongoing ICC Review Conference in Kampala where over 100 nations are gathered to deliberate on whether to include the crime of aggression in the Rome Statute.

The 33 African states that form the biggest single continental block that is party to the Rome Statute last week issued a joint statement in Kampala opposing the suggestion to mandate UN Security Council approval powers of the crime of aggression.

Mr Ferencz said during the Nuremberg Tribunal trials where prosecutors built their case against the Nazi war perpetrators led by former German dictator Adolf Hitler, his was a plea of humanity to law and that is what will happen to any nation that resists change.

"The world is changing very first and perpetrators of atrocities will be made to account even after a century. No one should use his military prowess to terrorise the rest of the world thinking no one will hold him accountable," he added.

He however expressed optimism that the big nations will see reason in the Kampala meet and stop meandering from the truth and adopt the crime of aggression.

"I hope that President Obama, after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize will also support the ICC on the crime of aggression and that Russia and China will not accept to commit the old mistakes to stop the process," he said.

Mr Ferencz's comments come just a day after lawyers representing Sudan President Omar el-Bashir at the ICC following his indictment last March accused ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo of politicising the court's operations by focusing on Africa alone.

They urged Mr Moreno-Ocampo to indict former US President George W. Bush and his close ally former Britain premier Tony Blair for lying to the world of existence of weapons of mass destruction to validate their invasion of Iraq in 2002.

[Source: Alfred Nyongesa Wandera, The Monitor/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX, 10Jun10].

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Crime of Aggression
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