News Release ~ 2002-11

Withdrawal of ICC signature ends partnerships, chance to influence fairness of international court

United States refuses to cooperate with its allies 

Washington, DC -- Leaving aside criticisms regarding international cooperation, the Bush administration Monday formally renounced its obligations as a signatory to the 1998 Rome Statute to establish an International Criminal Court (ICC). This announcement yesterday to "unsign" the treaty and withdraw the US participation in the ICC cripples the ability of the United States to participate in the development of the Court, says Nancy Hollander, past president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Despite the administration''s decision, Hollander has been nominated to be a member of the 35-person Preparatory Committee to create an International Criminal Bar for lawyers who will appear before the ICC. The first meeting of that Committee will be held in late May at The Hague. Hollander believes it is critical to work to develop structures that will insure procedural protections and adequate representation for accused persons before the new court.

"The ICC will be in business as of July 1, whether we like it or not," said Hollander, who is also co-chair of NACDL''s International Affairs Committee. "The administration''s ''unsigning'' of the treaty will not have any effect on the jurisdiction of the court to prosecute war crimes by U.S. citizens and officials if they occur on the soil of a signatory nation. The U.S. should recognize the benefits its participation can have to insure the strength of the defense function and the fairness of the court."

Hollander points out that the ICC will only function when the court systems of involved countries are unable or unwilling to act. "Any state can prosecute its own war criminals," she said. "If the U.S. keeps its own house clean, it has nothing to fear, but through this ''unsigning'' it will lose its opportunity to see that adequate procedural protections and defense resources are part of the ICC." 

Hollander is a criminal defense lawyer in Albuquerque. She can be reached at (505)842-9960.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 9,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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