Minister to bring in Bill on war crimes

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The Government will bring forward legislation to enshrine the planned International Criminal Court in British law, it announced yesterday.

The Government will bring forward legislation to enshrine the planned International Criminal Court in British law, it announced yesterday.

Peter Hain, a Foreign Office minister, said a draft Bill for the new court, which would have the power to try people accused of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity, would be published on 22 August.

He is writing to opposition parties, which have supported the Bill in principle, pleading for them to let it go through without any filibustering or party in-fighting. "I don't want this Bill to become a victim of the kind of Parliamentary machinations that opposition parties indulge in to frustrate the Government's general programme," he said.

There will be a seven-week consultation period, closing on 12 October, in time for the measure to be included in the Queen's Speech setting out the Government's legislative programme for the next parliamentary session.

The Bill will enable the Government to ratify the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing Britain as one of the court's founder members.

Of the 98 nations which signed the statute, only 14 have ratified it so far - well short of the 60 countries needed to bring the court into existence.

Britain has been in the forefront of international efforts to establish the court, putting it at odds with the US, which has refused to sign the statute on the grounds that it is opposed to any court which could seek to put American soldiers and officials on trial. Other nations which have objected to the court include China and Iraq.

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