India must join International Criminal Court: expert

August 9th, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 9 (IANS) India must become a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) statute, said Rajya Sabha member E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan here Saturday, adding that “our police forces and agencies do not have the efficiency nor the protocol to fight terrorism, crimes against women and children”. The senior advocate in India’s Supreme Court was speaking at a conference here to discuss the relevance of ICC for India.

Natchiappan said that a parliamentary panel had recommended a federal police system for India to tackle crimes that raised issues of jurisdiction between the states and between the state and the union government.

“Especially in cases of terrorism which has no state or country and no religion,” he said.

“We need a federal police system with power to investigate and file charges,” he said.

Until such a system is in place, India must become a signatory to the ICC, said Natchiappan, adding “as a complimentary process to India’s own legal system”.

The ICC India campaign, who are the organisers, said: “In independent India, mass crimes have been committed, including communal violence, attacks against Dalits and Adivasis, as well as sexual violence, torture, enforced disappearance and extra-judicial killings that are conducted in a widespread or systematic manner.”

“Civilians including women, children and minorities have often been victims of these crimes. Despite the guarantee of fundamental rights in the Indian Constitution as well as an elaborate set of criminal laws, it is an undeniable fact that a large-scale impunity exists for many such crimes.”

The statute creating the ICC contains many legal standards “that could be useful for civil society in India to strengthen the domestic legal system through law reform initiatives, including provisions on reparations to and protection of victims”, the ICC campaign said.

Inadequacies in Indian laws and the relevance of the ICC standards, human rights standards, mass crimes in India and a right to fair trial and its violation under Indian laws and courts were discussed by experts like Saumya Uma, ICC India campaign coordinator, Ossie Fernandes of the human rights Advocacy research Foundation and Henri Tiphagne of Peoples’ Watch.

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