The International Criminal Court: Making the right choices – part I: Defining the crimes and permissible defences and initiating a prosecution

This position paper is the first of a series designed for decision-makers addressing topics scheduled to be discussed at the four sessions in 1997 and 1998 of the UN Preparatory Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court. This first paper reviews the reasons for Amnesty International’s support for the establishment of a just, fair and effective court and its efforts since 1993 to achieve that goal. It gives a brief history of efforts to establish a permanent international criminal court and describes the growing support for such a court. It details Amnesty International’s basic principles including ensuring that the court is an effective complement to national courts, ensuring core crimes are within the court’s jurisdiction, defining jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and serious violations of humanitarian law. It gives general principles of criminal law and permissible defences and the need for the statute to specify punishments, but exclude the death penalty. It also discusses procedures for bringing a case before the court (trigger mechanisms).

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