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The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council strongly supports the establishment of an International Criminal Court, and urges all Members of Parliament to work towards Australia’s ratification of the Rome Statute.

“The International Criminal Court will be an important tool for the protection of human rights.  We are proud of the leading role that Australia’s representatives have played in the development of the Statute.  We had hoped that Australia would be among the first nations not only to sign the Statute, but to take the further step of ratifying it and making it a binding part of our domestic law”, said Bishop Christopher Saunders, Deputy Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council.

“Too often in our life time we have seen the need for an impartial international criminal tribunal to try crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and other crimes against humanity.  Local authorities are not always willing or able to do so effectively.  Some crimes are so serious that they are genuinely the concern of the whole of humanity and require an international response”, he explained.

“There are also times when the exercise of national jurisdiction may not be the most effective way of doing justice.  Even the mere perception of bias, or of the imposition of ‘victor’s justice’, can feed bitterness that promotes further atrocities rather than healing and peace”, he added.

“Entering into treaties is an exercise of Australia’s sovereignty, not a threat to it.  Countries that are confident in the competence and impartiality of their legal systems have nothing to fear from the creation of an international criminal tribunal.  The International Criminal Court will only come into play if national justice systems are unable or unwilling to genuinely exercise their jurisdiction.  It is difficult to imagine this ever happening in Australia, but if it did, then we would be grateful for the existence of such an international tribunal that would ensure that justice was not only done, but be seen to be done”, he said.

“Concerns about details of the operation of the ICC would be better addressed by Australia ratifying the Statute and playing a key role in the development of this international institution, influencing administrative arrangements, and appointments.  Our experience of complementary justice systems within a Federal political structure means that we have a lot to offer if we choose to be constructive supporters”, he concluded.

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