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Armenia's ratification of ICC Rome Statute unfriendly step — senator

Konstantin Kosachev emphasized that, although the preamble of the Rome Statute says that the ICC complements national criminal justice bodies, the text of the document contains provisions that restrict the criminal jurisdiction of state parties

MOSCOW, October 3. /TASS/. The ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the Armenian parliament is a clearly unfriendly step towards Russia, Konstantin Kosachev, the Federation Council’s deputy speaker has said.

"Unfortunately, Armenia has taken this clearly unfriendly step towards Russia. No force in the Armenian parliament turned out to be strong enough to stop the process of legal subjugation of that country by The Hague-based judiciary," Kosachev wrote on his Telegram channel.

He emphasized that for any state the ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC "means nothing but the loss of legal sovereignty."

"This is humiliating in itself. It is for this reason that truly sovereign states, such as Russia, the United States, India, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran and others, do not join the ICC," Kosachev noted.

He pointed to two reasons why he regarded the latest developments as Armenia's legal subjugation. One is related to the fact that the ICC "has the right to exercise its jurisdiction on the territory of the member-states not only on the basis of the transfer of 'situations' by the UN Security Council or at the request of the participating states themselves."

"It is naive to think that in this way Armenia will be able to resolve issues involving the investigation of suspected war crimes in the conflict zone with Azerbaijan. The ICC's case law has repeatedly demonstrated the opposite, namely interference in the internal affairs of state parties. Ultimately, today's decision in favor of the ratification may backfire on the Armenian authorities in the future," he warns.

Besides, as Kosachev emphasized, although the preamble of the Rome Statute says that the ICC complements national criminal justice bodies, the text of the document contains provisions that restrict the criminal jurisdiction of state parties.

"In each specific case, the judges in The Hague will have a free hand decide if this or that situation is a result of Armenia's 'unwillingness or inability' to initiate criminal prosecution 'properly,' on the basis of which they will be able to exercise jurisdiction at their own discretion," Kosachev said.

On ratification

The Armenian parliament earlier voted in favor of ratifying the Rome Statute of the ICC. Sixty MPs voted for this decision and 20 against. The opposition factions Armenia and I Have Honor, which had boycotted the discussion of the issue, returned to the session hall and voted against. They noted that the adoption of the document had nothing to do with Armenia's interests and pursued geopolitical aims.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier told TASS that the ratification of the Rome Statute by Armenia would have the most negative consequences for bilateral relations. As the Foreign Ministry emphasized, the Armenian officials’ arguments to the effect that joining the ICC would allegedly have no effect on Russian-Armenian ties did not correspond to reality. Yerevan in fact ignored Moscow's counter-proposals, the Foreign Ministry stated.

The Rome Statute

The Rome Statute is an international treaty that established the International Criminal Court. It is also its Charter. The document was adopted at the diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998 and went into effect on July 1, 2002. It outlines the functions, jurisdiction and structure of the court (which is not part of the UN).

The ICC prosecutes individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and acts of aggression. The amendment on crimes of aggression was passed in December 2017. The ICC exercises jurisdiction only over crimes committed after July 1, 2002 on the territory of a state party and nationals of state parties on the territory of any other country. If a crime is committed in a state that is not a party to the Statute or its nationals are suspected of grave crimes, the UN Security Council can issue a mandate to launch a criminal investigation.

States that are not parties to the ICC and seek to investigate crimes committed on their soil can issue a special statement to recognize the court’s jurisdiction over a crime. The UN Security Council can suspend the court’s work and any arrest warrants it issues. The ICC has jurisdiction only over individuals. The court can sentence a person to 30 years or even life in prison, but is prohibited from imposing the death penalty.