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February 3, 2010

A look at the International Criminal Court

By The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal, headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands. It is an independent body, not a U.N. court.

ESTABLISHMENT - The Rome Statute creating the ICC was adopted in Italy July 17, 1998. It came into force in July 2002 after ratification by 60 countries. Neither the United States nor Sudan are among the 110 countries which have endorsed the treaty to date.

JURISDICTION - A court of last resort, the ICC acts only when member countries are "unwilling or unable" to dispense justice themselves. It may prosecute individuals responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after July 2002. The U.N. Security Council may ask the court to open an investigation.

CASES - The prosecutor has opened investigations in Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Sudan and Central African Republic.

SUSPECTS - The court has four suspects in custody, all of them alleged war lords from Congo. One of them, former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba is charged with crimes allegedly committed in Central African Republic.

TRIALS - The court is currently trying three Congolese warlords in two separate cases.

FUGITIVES - The court has issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, one of his government's ministers, Ahmad Muhammad Harun, and Ali Kushayb, a commander of the government-backed janjaweed militia. All are wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Darfur. Arrest warrants also have been issued for four leaders of the Ugandan rebel group Lord's Resistance Army and for another Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda.

COMPOSITION - Its 18 judges are elected for terms of three to nine years. The chief prosecutor is Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina. The president is South Korean judge Song Sang-hyun.

U.S. POSITION - The United States voted against the Rome treaty in 1998. But then-President Bill Clinton signed it on Dec. 31, 2000. Former President George W. Bush, citing fears Americans would be unfairly prosecuted for political reasons, renounced the signature and initiated bilateral immunity deals with dozens of countries, barring them from handing U.S. citizens to the court's jurisdiction. It is unclear how the U.S. relationship with the court will change under President Barack Obama.

BUDGET - The court had a 2009 budget of just over euro101 million ($140 million), that is paid by the countries in the ICC's governing body, the Assembly of States Parties.

Link to article  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/03/AR2010020300255_pf.html

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