EU disappointed with Poroshenko’s intention to join ICC in just three years

President Petro Poroshenko has put off Ukraine's membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for three years as the Parliament lacks 300 votes for this.

This was stated by Vice Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Oksana Syroyid during the seminar on the exchange of experience between the experts and parliamentarians on the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Human Rights Information Centre correspondent reports.

"Three years can be used as a very effective time to introduce the concepts of war crimes and crimes against humanity into the Criminal Code and to prepare Ukraine for ratification of the Rome Statute," she said.

The members of the European parliaments were surprised at such a position of the Ukrainian authorities.

In particular, British MP Mark Pritchard described the three-year term, stipulated in the transitional provisions of the presidential bill on constitutional amendments regarding justice, as "unusual for international practice."

"As far as I know we do not have 300 votes on this issue in the Parliament. People have different excuses for why they do not want to ratify the charter. The amendments to the Constitution are the political process rather than just the legislative process," Oksana Syroyid explained.

The representative of the Netherlands to the ICC Jan Lucas van Hoorn insisted that one of the conditions of the Association Agreement with the EU was the rule of law and asked the authorities not to miss the chance to join the European community.

"It's just a pity that this is happening in the Parliament. April 6 next year, the Netherlands will hold the referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The people, who organized it, do not care about Ukraine. They care about the European Union. And they want to show that the Netherlands won’t accept ‘unworthy country’ to the EU. It is just the association agreement, but we want to carry out the appropriate campaign in support of Ukraine in the Netherlands. Everyone in the country knows what the International Criminal Court is. If you ratify the Rome Statute, it will be the accelerator, which will help to convince people that you want to have the rule of law, you want to become a democratic partner in the European system," Jan Lucas van Hoorn said.

President of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Mykola Gnatovskyy recalled that the Parliament had already recognized the ICC's jurisdiction and duties of Ukraine, having filed its second appeal to the court in The Hague.

"However, Ukraine does not get the rights deriving from the ICC membership without ratification of the Rome Statute. For example, the right to participate in the Assembly of States Parties and to address issues of the court’s jurisdiction over crimes of aggression after January 1, 2017. Ukraine waives the right to nominate their judges to the ICC and does not want the Ukrainians to work in the office of the ICC prosecutor," Professor Mykola Gnatovskyy said, stressing that there is no justification for postponement of the ICC membership.

Member of the Presidium of the International Criminal Court Matias Hellman stressed that Ukraine should decide on its membership of the ICC. He stressed that obtaining legal protection for the country was among the reasons why the countries ratified the Rome Statute.

"Having approved the Rome Statute, the country becomes a full member of the Court. And if someone wants to commit genocide, war crimes, or a crime against humanity on your territory, he will realize that all these things will be finally considered at the court in The Hague. And he will think twice before doing that," Matias Hellman said.

As a reminder, Ukraine signed the Rome Statute in 2000. In 2001, the Constitutional Court decided that the document did not meet the Constitution of Ukraine.

January 16, 2015, more than 150 MPs proposed to amend the 124 Article of the Constitution.

Earlier, Ukraine committed itself to ratify the Rome Statute in accordance with Article 8 of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.

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