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Submissions Due: International Criminal Court Enabling Legislation
Closing date - 30 June 2000
The International Crimes and International Criminal Court Bill (2000) has passed its first reading and is currently at Select Committee stage. This is the enabling legislation for NZ to become a state party to the International Criminal Court. As it is a government bill, and because it is enabling legislation, it is expected to proceed through the House without too much controversy. However, you can make a submission on the Bill if you wish (details of how to do that are at the end of this alert) - the deadline is 30 June 2000.
In March 2000, the government announced that it had agreed, in principle, to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The next step was the referral of the Statute to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee for consideration, and the Committee reported on its examination of the Statute to parliament on 5 May 2000.
The final step towards ratifying the Statute has been the introduction of the International Crimes and International Criminal Court Bill (2000).
While not all of the obligations of the Statute need to be reflected in the enabling legislation, some do specifically require domestic procedures to be put in place to give effect to particular obligations - the Bill contains those procedures, together with the provisions that are needed to implement certain other articles.
The explanatory note at the beginning of the Bill states “In one respect, the Bill goes further than the Rome Statute as it extends NZ’s criminal law by creating new offences of genocide and crimes against humanity and restates the categories of war crimes.” However, the definition of ‘genocide’, is that used in the Rome Statute (article 6); the definition of ‘crimes against humanity’ is that used in the Rome Statute (article 7); and the definition of ‘war crimes’ is that used in the Rome Statute (articles 8 (2) (a), 8 (2) (b), 8 (2) (c), and 8 (2) (e)). Unfortunately, ‘crimes against peace’ do not seem to be included.
While this is most regrettable, we wander from the point ... if you are making a submission, it should relate only to this Bill, not to the strengths or weaknesses of the ICC or the Rome Statute. The purpose of the Bill is to put the machinery in place so that the Statute as it currently stands can be put into effect in this country.
There is a very small period of time for submissions to be made on this Bill, but there is a reason for that. The government wants the Select Committee to report back by 3 August, and the government’s intention is to get it through its second and third readings as soon as possible because Kofi Annan has expressed the desire to have as many countries as possible ratify the Rome Statute so that it enters into force around the beginning of the Millennium Assembly. This will require ratification by sixty countries.
If you intend making a submission, you will need a copy of the Bill, and alas, because of its size (208 pages) we cannot fax or post copies out. If you live in a city with a Bennetts Bookshop you can purchase a copy for $6-85; Wellington people can have a look at it in the PMA office by arrangement.
Submissions should be sent to The Clerk, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, Parliament Buildings, Wellington (no stamp required) or faxed to (04) 499 0486. If you are on a low income, they will accept a single copy of your submission if you include a note to that effect; organisations must send 20 copies of their submission.