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Bangladesh Ratification: CICC Ratification Campaign Backgrounder; Related Members Media Releases; EU Statement
29 Mar 2010
Dear all,

As we all congratulate Bangladesh for ratifying the Rome Statute on 23 March 2010, we would like to share with you a background overview of CICC's Bangladesh campaign, which sketches in broad strokes the 10- year long ratification campaign carried out by civil society toward this important goal. The CICC wishes to acknowledge all parties involved in advocating for Bangladesh's ratification including from civil society, government, parliament and the media. Together we managed to come one step closer to a universal court with global support. We will continue our campaigns in other states around the world that are interested in joining the Court. We invite your suggestions and comments toward moving forward with our goal.

This message also includes related statements by CICC member NGOs (II) and the European Union (III).

Regards,

Brigitte Suhr
Director of Regional Programs,
CICC Secretariat
[email protected]

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I. CICC BACKGROUNDER ON BANGLADESH RATIFICATION CAMPAIGN

i. “Towards Universality - Campaign for Ratification: Bangladesh 1999-2010,” CICC Background Overview, March 2010, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/Bangladesh_ratification_Background_CICC.pdf

“Bangladesh was the first South Asian country to express an interest in joining the International Criminal Court and signed the Rome Statute in 1999. It deposited its instrument of ratification on 23 March 2010.

Since 1999, civil society, the international Coalition for the ICC through the Bangladesh Coalition for the ICC (BCICC), the CICC has sustained a campaign to reach the goal of ratification. Also instrumental in the ratification was the return to power of the Awami League, the government that signed the treaty in September 1999 and now holds a majority in parliament after winning the December 2008 general elections. The Awami League government has made significant contributions to strengthen the fight against impunity, including amending a 1973 law for a tribunal on crimes committed during the War of Liberation in 1971 which is expected to lead to investigations and trials of alleged perpetrators. ODHIKAR, a CICC focal point in the region, was also undoubtedly a key actor during the process leading up to Bangladesh’s ratification, providing advice and on the ground action at all key moments in the ratification process.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court has carried out a number of advocacy campaigns and activities to promote the ratification of the Rome Statute, including awareness-raising actions aimed at government officials and parliamentarians, advocacy meetings and periodic letters to the President, Prime Minister and key government officials, calling for Bangladesh’s ratification of the Rome Statute.

CICC Steering Committee members have also been active advocating for Bangladesh’s ratification of the Rome Statute. For example, in April 2004, Steering Committee member Forum Asia assisted ODHIKAR in organizing a workshop on the ICC in Dhaka. Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), another CICC Steering Committee member, has encouraged and liaised in the past with MPs in Bangladesh advocating for the ratification of the Rome Statute.

The following are a selection of specific activities carried out by the CICC:

* In May 2002, BCICC (Bangladesh Coalition for the ICC) organized a workshop on ICC ratification in which J.V. Ketel-sen, Chargé d’Affaires of the European Commission delegation urged the government to promptly ratify the Rome Statute.
* In April 2004, ODHIKAR (together with Forum Asia and CICC) organized an international workshop on the ICC in Dhaka. The workshop was attended by key policy-makers including the chief justice, judges, the attorney general, parliament members, ministers, lawyers and human rights activists from the South Asia region. Additionally, in that same month, members of the BCICC and international participants held advocacy meetings with ministers and members of parliament on ratification.
* On 25 November 2004, ODHIKAR organized a workshop with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) of the Canadian government in order to create a strong campaign and raise awareness of the Rome Treaty among government policy-makers, parliamentarians, judges, human rights activists, lawyers, students, civil society and NGOs.
* In February 2005, ODHIKAR held a South Asian regional conference of ICC advocates. Participants from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and ANICC (Asian Network for the ICC) attended, discussing experiences and problems faced in ICC campaigns, which led to further discussions on how to strengthen these campaigns.
* During 2006-2007, ODHIKAR undertook a comprehensive study on the compatibility of the Rome Statute and the domestic legislation in Bangladesh, including the Constitution of Bangladesh, in order to pave the way towards ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute.
* In 2009 and 2010, ODHIKAR capitalized on the presence of the Awami League government to strengthen its advocacy efforts, including distributing a handbook on the ICC among government officials and organizing media and advocacy workshops on the ICC.
* In December 2009 and March 2010, CICC Asia representatives carried out two missions to Bangladesh to support the campaign for the ratification of the Rome Statute in Bangladesh, participate in a national advocacy workshop, and meet with key officials to advocate for ratification. It was during this first mission that CICC Secretariat and ODHIKAR joined efforts with ICC President Sang-Hyun Song, who was present at the time in Dhaka, to advocate for Bangladesh’s ratification of the Rome Statute. President Song’s strong commitment to increasing ratification of the Rome Statute among Asian States was essential in the final decision leading to ratification.
* Bangladesh has also been the target of two CICC universal ratification campaigns (URCs) in August 2009 and January 2010. Additionally, in September 2009, CICC sent a letter to H.E. President Rahman and H.E. Prime Minister Hasina within the framework of the UN Treaty Event, calling on ratification of the Rome Statute. Lastly, in February 2010, the CICC Secretariat sent a letter to H.E. President Zillur Rahman calling on Bangladesh to ratify before 1 April 2010, so as to assure Bangladesh’s participation at the Review Conference as a state party to the RS.

CICC has also facilitated the participation of civil society representatives from Bangladesh both at CICC Asia regional strategy meetings as well as in sessions of the Preparatory Commission and the Assembly of States Parties in New York and The Hague.

The CICC attaches great importance to this ratification. As Evelyn Serrano, CICC Asia Regional Coordinator, has stated, ‘We hope that this ratification will create momentum in the region, with Nepal, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines following soon. Then, Asia will have more voice at the ICC and our dream of ending impunity in this part of the world becomes more real.’ ”

II. CICC MEMBERS STATEMENTS

i. “Bangladesh: Important step forward for international justice,” Press Release, Amnesty International, 25 March 2010, http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18695

“Amnesty International today welcomes Bangladesh’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which took place on Tuesday 23 March. This important ratification sets a high standard for states in investigating and prosecuting crimes under international law. The ratification follows more than a decade of campaigning by Amnesty International and other civil society groups since Bangladesh signalled its willingness to adhere to the terms of the statute, by signing on 16 September 1999.

Bangladesh is the 111th state to ratify the Rome Statute and the seventh in Asia to do so, joining Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, Timor-Leste and Japan.

By ratifying the Rome Statute, Bangladesh has demonstrated an important commitment to international justice and working to end impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Bangladesh will need to urgently re-examine the law establishing International Crimes Tribunals, which it plans to set up, to try people accused of crimes committed during Bangladesh’s independence war, in order to ensure that the procedures it uses are fully consistent with the Rome Statute and other international law.

The ratification by Bangladesh could have a significant impact in Asia, particularly on Nepal and Indonesia who have promised to ratify. Amnesty International hopes that Bangladesh will encourage these and other states in the region to do so and to join them in sending a high-level delegation to the Review Conference on the Rome Statute scheduled to take place in Kampala from 31 May - 11 June 2010.

Ratification of the Rome Statute is, however, just the first step. Bangladesh must now enact effective implementation of legislation; defining genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as crimes under international law in accordance with the strictest international law definitions. This will enable it to prosecute people, regardless of rank, for those crimes whenever and wherever they were committed. That legislation also needs to provide for full cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

In addition, in order to ensure such cooperation, it must also ratify the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the International Criminal Court (APIC) so that the Court and its officials can freely visit Bangladesh.

Finally, Bangladesh should now enter into agreement with the Court, regarding provisions for relocation of victims and witnesses. It should also enter into an agreement with the Court providing for the enforcement of court sentences in Bangladesh, and ensuring prison facilities meet international standards.

Mike Blakemore, of Amnesty International UK, said:

’This is exciting news. Amnesty International hopes the government of Bangladesh will now rise to the expectations generated by the ratification of the Rome Statute and work towards enhancing human rights protection in the country and elsewhere.’ ...”

ii. “Bangladesh becomes the 111th State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC: An important day for Bangladesh, Asia, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the international Community,” Press release, Parliamentarian for Global Action, 21 March 2010, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/BNGPR.pdf

“PGA wishes to extend its warmest congratulations to Bangladesh and her people on the occasion of her becoming the 111th State Party to the Rome Statute of the ICC.

As an organization, PGA has been pleased to work with MPs from Bangladesh on a number of different issues in different fora, including within Bangladesh itself just a few years ago.

As the first country in the South Asia sub-region to take this historic step, it is hoped that it will encourage, facilitate and pave the way, for more countries in this under-represented region to follow suit.

PGA also lauds the fact that another country in the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has become a State Party to the ICC.

PGA has worked with Parliamentarians in Bangladesh for 18 years.

In 2002, several Legislators from Bangladesh came to Delhi, India for important PGA organized consultations on ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC in South Asia.

Since that time, PGA has encouraged, liaised with and advised its Members in Bangladesh advocating for ratification of the Rome Statute.

In parallel, PGA has also been pleased to work on a regular basis with other stakeholders with the shared wish that ratification of the Rome Statute by Bangladesh would one day become a reality.

PGA looks forward to continuing its long standing cooperation with Parliamentarians in Bangladesh, in particular should a need arise for assistance in connection with full and timely implementation of the Rome Statute into domestic Bangladeshi law....”

iii. “NCICC Welcomes Ratification of the Rome Statute by Bangladesh,” NCICC, 24 March 2010, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/INSEC_Statement_Ratification_of_RC_by_Bangladesh_22March_2010.pdf

“Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) on behalf of National Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) welcomes the determination that Bangladesh has shown to follow international standards to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide by ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 22 March 2010.

With this ratification Bangladesh has become the first country to join the International Criminal Court in South Asia and 111th State party to the Statute. Joining of this international justice system by Bangladesh would grant the region a stronger voice and a more meaningful role in supporting this truly effective mechanism for the protection of human rights and the rule of law. With this ratification Bangladesh would also be able to participate in the upcoming Review Conference in May in Kampala, as a State Party- a special meeting of the state party to review and consider amendments to the Rome Statute.

NCICC likes to request Government of Bangladesh to initiate a process to adopt effective implementing legislation as soon possible and also to ratify the ICC Agreement on Privileges and Immunities.

Greater support for the International Criminal Court in the Asian region is needed in order to increase the region’s commitment to fight against impunity. Applauding the move of the Government of Bangladesh, we would like to urge Government of Nepal to accede to the Statute without further delay.

Subodh Raj Pyakurel, Chairperson, INSEC”

III. EU STATEMENT

i. Statement by Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, 26 March 2010, http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/113593.pdf

"I warmly welcome the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court by Bangladesh on March 23.

This ratification, bringing the number of ICC states parties to 111, marks a further significant step forward in the international community's efforts to combat impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. I hope that this accession will encourage other countries in Asia to consider ratifying the Statute.

The European Union has long supported the ratification by Bangladesh of the Rome Statute and I am convinced that Bangladesh will make a highly valuable contribution to the Court's work.

I would like to seize this occasion to reiterate the European Union's commitment to the universality and integrity of the Rome Statute and call upon states which have not yet done so to accede to the Rome Statute."


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The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts.

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