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>> The Yemen Times


YEMENI CIVIL SOCIETY URGES ICC RATIFICATION

Momentum is gathering from all sectors of Yemeni civil society in support of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Just before governments from around the Arab world and beyond arrived in Yemen to discuss this important issue, NGOs from several governorates, representing a diverse range of Yemeni civil society came together for a first ever two-day “National Roundtable on the Ratification and Implementation of the International Criminal Court in Yemen”. Held between 7-8 January, 2004, the roundtable was co-sponsored by the Federation International des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme (International Federation for Human Rights, FIDH) and Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF, Yemen), with the support of the newly created Yemeni Coalition for the ICC and the International Coalition of NGOs for the ICC (CICC). The idea for the Yemeni Coalition for the ICC was first discussed at the FIDH regional NGO Conference on “Anti-terrorism, and the post 9/11 Attempts to Undermine Human rights and international humanitarian law” held in Ankara, Turkey between September 19-22, 2003 which ended with the launch of the FIDH campaign for the ratification and implementation of the ICC Statute in the countries of the southern and eastern Mediterranean. Ms. Amal Basha, representing the SAF, initiated and played a leading role in creating and launching the Yemeni Coalition for the ICC, which now represents over 60 non-governmental organizations from around Yemen. The group is also supported by numerous Yemeni human rights activists, journalists, law professors, parliamentarians and prominent government officials. Ms. Amal Basha of SAF welcomed the participants and honored guests, at the opening ceremony on January 7, 2004, which was attended by NGOs, representatives of foreign intergovernmental organizations and members of the press. The ceremony enjoyed the gracious presence of Her Excellency, Ms.Amat Al-Aleem Al Soswa, Minister for Human Rights, as well as Her Excellency Ms. Emma Bonino, Member of the European Parliament, the Honorable Mr. Gianfranco dell’Alba, Secretary General of No Peace Without Justice, and Ms. Jeanne Sulzer, on behalf of FIDH. Speakers praised the event as a necessary complementary event, together with the today’s opening of the Democracy, Human Rights and International Criminal Court event. According to Ms. Jeanne Sulzer, International Justice program of the FIDH, the goal of the two-day roundtable was, “to support and strengthen Yemeni Civil Society in its efforts to raise awareness about the ICC; to develop local expertise to assist the government in drafting effective ratification and implementation legislation; and welcoming Yemeni NGOs into the worldwide campaign for the ICC.” According to Ms. Jeanne Sulzer, International Justice program Director of the FIDH, the goal of the two-day roundtable was “to support and strengthen Yemeni Civil Society in its efforts to raise awareness about the ICC; to develop local expertise to assist the government in drafting effective ratification and implementation legislation; and welcoming Yemeni NGOs into the worldwide campaign for the ICC.” The first day of the roundtable focused on worldwide efforts to establish the ICC and the role of civil society, presented by Mr. Joydeep Sengupta of the Coalition for the ICC. Other presentations by Ms. Jeanne Sulzer and Ms. Stephanie David of FIDH, included the United States campaign to undermine the ICC and the process of ratification and implementation of the ICC in the Middle East/Arab Region. Mr. Shawki Al-Kadi, Member of the Yemeni Parliament, one of the leading Yemeni experts on the ICC spoke on the jurisdiction of the ICC and the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. Other presenters from FIDH, SAF and the Coalition from the ICC introduced the principle of complementarity between the ICC and national courts, the ICC Prosecutorial Strategy, Victims Issues in the Court and Gender Justice and the ICC. The highlight of the roundtable was a presentation by Professor Ahmed Al Hamidi, from the University of Tai’z, Yemen, a leading expert of Yemeni law and the ICC. “There are no constitutional objections, or any conflict with Shari’a law, for Yemen’s ratification of the ICC” Professor Al-Hamidi, declared. The roundtable ended with a concrete set of strategies and a plan of action, on behalf of the Yemeni Coalition for the ICC. An immediate declaration (see below), was adopted. A detailed post-roundtable report will be produced by FIDH and SAF, with the Yemeni Coalition and will be available for distribution in Arabic and English from www.fidh.org, or from sisters’ Arab Forum office in Sana’a. The International Criminal Court came into force, thanks to the extraordinary support of global civil society, favoring accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This unique process benefited from the unprecedented partnership between Like-Minded States, independent NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, supporting the creation of a fair, effective and independent International Criminal Court. It is therefore, very encouraging, that civil society in Yemen has identified the ICC as a key priority in the nation’s move towards a stronger democracy and protection of human rights. An historic innovation of the ICC is that it will allow victims of the worst human rights violations to participate, to be represented and to seek reparation. The victims of these heinous crimes should always remain at center of the ICC process, both domestically and internationally. The participants adopted the following Declaration: “We, the participants of the National Roundtable on the International Criminal Court, which took place from 7-8 January in Sana’a organized by Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, urge the Yemeni Parliament to ratify Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” - The Sisters’ Arabic Forum for Human Rights (SAF) - The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - The international Coalition for the ICC (CICC)





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