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Rabat 2012 - Universality of the Rome Statute in the Middle East and Mediterranean

May 17-18, 2012 | Parliament of Morocco | Rabat, Morocco

On the occasion of a parliamentary conference and related consultations held in Cairo, Egypt, in 2005, PGA created the Working Group on the Universality of the Rome Statute of the ICC in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The goal of the Working Group is:

“To reinforce the rule of law and principles of democracy by promoting universal participation in the ICC system and full adherence to the Statute’s norms through effective national implementation of the Rome Statute in national legal orders, with a particular focus on the Middle East and the Mediterranean.”

The Working Group works through closed-door political, legal and strategic consultations in which experts and ICC officials are invited to provide specific input and participate in interactive dialogue with a selected group of Parliamentarians from the region.

The Working Group met for its 5th session under the gracious auspices of the House of Representatives of Morocco in Rabat on 17 and 18 May 2012.

The session was opened by Mr. Mohammed Yatim, MP First Vice-President of the Parliament (Justice and Development Party), Mr. Mohammed Benabdessadeq, MP, Deputy Chairman of the Justice, Legislation and Human Rights Committee (Justice and Development Party - majority) and Mr. Driss Lachguar, MP, Secretary General of the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (opposition).

The Working Group benefitted from the active participation of Ambassador Tiina Intelmann (Estonia), President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute and Mr. Rod Rastan, Legal Advisor, Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It was moderated by the Deputy Convenor of PGA’s ICC Campaign, Mr. Coşkun Çorüz, MP (CDA-The Netherlands). The participants for this 5th Session of the Working Group included 23 members of the Moroccan Parliament, along with parliamentarians from Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Yemen.

Morocco and the ICC

The discussions evidenced multi-partisan support within the Moroccan Parliament for the ratification of the Rome Statute, especially in light of the 2011 revision of the Constitution that recognizes the obligation of the Moroccan state to punish the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
[See also relevant Media Outlets]

The support for the Rome Statute system within the Parliament was echoed by a positive openness in the Government to discuss the prospects of ratification, as evidenced in the bilateral meetings held by Amb. Intelmann with Mr. Saad Ottomani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Mohammed Abdenabaoui, Director of Penal Affairs and Amnesty of the Ministry of Justice.

Ambassador Intelmann and a PGA delegation also met with Mr. Driss El Yazami, President of the National Council of Human Rights, who expressed the view that there are no de jure or de facto impediments, (i.e. in respect of all territories in which Morocco currently exercises its sovereignty) that could block the ratification of the Rome Statute by Morocco. A meeting with a large group of more than 30 civil society activists, organised by the Coalition for the ICC (CICC), evidenced the high level of societal participation and concern for the strengthening of the Rule of Law in Morocco through the ratification and implementation of the Rome Statute.

The Universality of the Rome Statute in Egypt and Yemen

The Working Group Meeting has been successful in renewing the membership of parliamentarians to PGA and its Campaign on the ICC after the political changes of the past year, indelibly marked by the so called Arab spring.

In Egypt, Dr. Adel Afify, MP, Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee (and President of the Al-Asala Party), promised to report in the National Assembly on the urgency of ICC ratification, which had been blocked in 2003 by former President Mubarak.

In Yemen, PGA members Mr. Ali Ashal, MP (Aslah Party) and Mr. Ali M. Al-Mamari, MP (Free Coalition) have committed to reverse the blockage to the ratification process, which was caused by former President Saleh in 2005 after the forthcoming elections.

The Fight against Impunity in the Region and the Implementation of the Rome Statute Jordan and Tunisia

New PGA Member Mr. Jamil Nimri, MP (Democratic Block) has committed to work on the incorporation of the Rome Statute in Jordan and to engage PGA members for a continued call for an urgent UN Security Council referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC .

In Tunisia, both the Deputy Speaker Mr. Larbi Abid, MP (Republican Congress) and the Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Committee Ms. Souad Abderrahim, MP (Ennadha) have expressed the willingness of their country to support the decision of other Arab States to join the ICC and protect the integrity of the Rome Statute in the fora in which their country participates (e.g. the African Union). These PGA Members requested technical cooperation on implementing legislation from the PGA secretariat.

Reinforcement of the Role of Parliamentarians in the Middle East

The central role of PGA and the Working Group is to enhance the democratisation of the decision-making process regarding the fight against impunity through reinforcing the position of Parliamentarians and their exercise of their legislative and political prerogatives. The 5th Meeting of the Working sought to fulfil this role especially for Morocco, given that the country is at a crucial juncture for its reform and development process.

With the support from the European Union (European Commission), the Governments of The Netherlands, Switzerland, and Humanity United Foundation, and the collaboration and in-kind contributions from the Parliament of Morocco.

For more information contact:

Mr. Mohammed Yatim, 1st Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives (PJD-Morocco), Amb. Tiina Intelman, President of the Assembly of States Parties of the Rome Statute of the ICC and  Mr. Driss Lachguar, MP (USFP-Morocco)

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