EU Welcomes Guatemala's Accession To ICC

The European Union on Tuesday welcomed Guatemala's ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and expressed hopes that the Central American country's accession to the ICC would encourage other countries to ratify the Statute.

"I warmly welcome Guatemala's accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 2 April 2012. I am convinced that Guatemala will make a highly valuable contribution to the Court's work," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

"Without universal participation of all States, the Court will not be able to fulfill its role as a key instrument in combating impunity when the most serious crimes are committed and national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute. The ICC also has a significant role to play in preventing and deterring these crimes," she added.

Once Guatemala comes under the gambit of the Rome Statute on July 1, the Central American country would become the 121st member of the ICC. Only two more Central American nations, namely El Salvador and Nicaragua, are yet to sign up to the ICC's founding treaty.

The Hague-based ICC is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The ICC was set up in The Hague, Netherlands, in 2002 as the world's first permanent war crimes court after the adoption of its founding statute at a Rome conference in July 1998. So far, 14 cases have been brought before the ICC, including four that have reached the trial stage.

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