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Miriam urges Aquino to transmit 'Rome Statute' to Senate

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, an international law expert, said President Benigno Simeon Aquino III’s first true test before the international community would be the passage of major treaties, such as the "Rome Statute." The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute) is the treaty that established the "International Criminal Court" (ICC). This statute was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome in July 1998 and became enforced in July 2002. Around 111 states are already party to the statute. Both the Philippines and the United States have not yet ratified the statute. “The policy of Malacañang with regard to the Rome Statute has been in line with the position of the US. The US under the Bush administration did not ratify the Rome Statute. With new presidents leading both countries, we can expect expedience in the statute’s ratification," Santiago said. The senator also said the change in the leadership in both countries could pave the way for the ratification of the Rome Statute. The statute provides that the ICC would be a permanent institution. The ICC would have the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons involved in the most serious crimes of international concern— genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Signed but not ratified The Philippines was among the active participants in the 1998 United Nations Conference in Rome. The Philippines is one of the 38 states that have signed but not ratified the treaty. “This is the first test for the President Aquino before the international community. It will be a bold move for the new Aquino administration to initiate the concurrence of the Rome Statute ahead of its ally the US," Santiago said. Santiago hopes that Aquino would transmit the Rome Statute to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate has been requesting the transmittal of the statute since 2006. “It is the fundamental duty of the Philippines—as articulated in the Constitution and international law—to protect human rights, especially the right to life and human dignity; thus, the issue of ratification of the Rome Statute is one of transcendental importance," Santiago said. US President Barack Obama has acknowledged in media interviews that the ICC has “pursued charges only in cases of the most serious and systematic crimes and it is in America’s interests that these most heinous of criminals, like the perpetrators of the genocide in Darfur, are held accountable. These actions are a credit to the cause of justice and deserve full American support and cooperation." –VVP, GMANews.TV