Subject: Statement by ET & Asian NGOs at workshop on ICC



26-27 June 2002, Dili, East Timor

We, representatives of government ministries and agencies, NGOs, political parties and media gathered in Dili for a two day workshop on the International Criminal Court jointly organized by NGO Forum and FORUM-ASIA.

The Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court was adopted by 120 states in 1998, signed by 139 states and consequently ratified so far by 69 countries. It will take effect on July 1, 2002, with its headquarters to be based in The Hague, Netherlands. The ICC will have jurisdiction over individuals who have committed serious crimes of international concern: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

After inputs and discussions on various aspects of the Rome Statute, including the relevance of its ratification to East Timor and the Asian region, hereby state:

That we are convinced of ICCs significance and the important role it can play to attain justice for victims and to deter future commission of serious crimes;

That we recognize the important role of both governments and NGOs in ensuring the effective implementation of the ICC, jointly cooperating in making it truly independent and fair.

That we reaffirm the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of human rights; that human rights is a matter of international responsibility and accountability.

Therefore, we recognize the commitment made by the government of East Timor to ratify the Rome Statute very soon. We urge other Asian governments, especially the Indonesian Government, to ratify the ICC and join the international community in the pursuit for peace and justice through the use of rule of law.

We express our deep concern over the lack of political will and determination to pursue the past cases of human rights violations in East Timor committed before, during and after the referendum and urge the international community to support the efforts of the East Timorese people in pursuing justice for the victims of such crimes before an international tribunal.

We are also concerned over the grave violations of human rights taking place in other parts of Asia and the world particularly the alarming situation in Burma, Aceh, West Papua in Indonesia, Mindanao in the Philippines, Afghanistan and other difficult situations, especially those victimizing mostly women and children. We are most disturbed by the labeling of terrorism to legitimate exercise of rights to expression, organization and to self determination by groups and peoples, thus endangering their lives and violating their human rights.

We call on the East Timorese and other Asian governments to accede to relevant human rights treaties like the conventions on civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, on children, women, refugees and on torture and other human rights mechanisms that would provide redress for victims and their families.

We call on the international community to strengthen its resolve to pursue justice where justice is due and work for peace through the rule of law.

Lastly, we call on the United States government to reconsider its un-signing and consider ratifying the Rome Statute. It will do humankind a great deal of service if USA joins the international community in the establishment of the first permanent and independent international criminal court.

For more information, call Mr. Somchai Homlaor (FORUM-ASIA), tel. (66) (01) 8995476 or Mr. Cecilio Caminha Freitas (EAST TIMOR NGO-FORUM), tel. 0417835424.

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