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Commonwealth revises Model Law on implementing the Rome Statute to promote the ending of impunity for perpetrators of worst crimes known to humanity

24 February 2011

A group of Commonwealth experts has started the work of revising the Commonwealth model law on implementing the Rome Statute to help Commonwealth countries implement the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court domestically so that they can investigate and prosecute effectively at the national level some of the most serious crimes of international concern, thus helping to close the impunity gap.

The group of legal professionals, government officials, academics and representatives of civil society groups chaired by Professor Charles Garraway representing the British Red Cross Society is meeting from 23 - 25 February 2011 at the Commonwealth Secretariat's headquarters in London to recommend changes to the model law on implementing the Rome Statute.

The group will recommend changes that reflect best practice and legal developments which have taken place since the last model legislation was adopted in 2005.

The Rome Statute which entered into force in 2002 is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and the Crime of Aggression.

To date, 114 countries have signed up to the Rome Statute, including 34 Commonwealth countries.

Akbar Khan, Director of Legal and Constitutional Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat noted that revising the model law on implementing the Rome Statute is important to provide an up-to-date template to help Commonwealth countries to draft laws that can be implemented nationally and which reflect contemporary legal developments.

Mr Khan said, “Without effective domestic legislation member states that have signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will be unable to fully co-operate with the ICC or to fulfil their primary legal responsibility to conduct effective national investigations and prosecutions of these serious international crimes resulting in injustice to victims and impunity”.

The revised Commonwealth model law will be presented to Commonwealth Law Ministers for approval at their next meeting which is scheduled for July 2011 in Sydney, Australia.

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