Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp today said the United States strongly supports the prosecution of those who are responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
According to Mr. Rapp, all through human history, people have suffered during wars and other armed conflicts. He stressed but in the world of 2011, in many conflict zones it has become far more dangerous to be an innocent woman or child than it is to be a soldier.
“I remember the tasks that Mayee Warren and I confronted when we came first to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. My job was to prepare for an immediate trial and hers was to organize the evidence. But we both had to try to understand the Rwanda genocide: the murder of 800,000 men, women, and children in a period of only 100 days-a rate of killing that exceeded that of the Nazi death machine at its most effective.”-Mr. Rapp
According to Mr. Rapp, the world has responded to the targeting of the innocent, not evenly, not always effectively, but it began to do so in the 1990s with the creation of International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda.
“Among these [perpetrators] were 13 government ministers, including the Prime Minister, 12 military leaders, various territorial governors and mayors, media directors, like those I personally prosecuted. [The tribunal’s] judgments have told the story of what happened, and pronounced convictions for the crime of genocide for the first time in human history.”-Mr. Rapp
Mr. Rapp said he is no longer an international prosecutor, but as an Ambassador-at-Large for the United States of America. He said he now visits the ICC as the representative of his government.
According to Mr. Rapp, the United States respects the right of every country to join the ICC. He said it was the position of the last administration, under former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, expressed in the public words of her Legal Advisor. He stressed that in this administration, the U.S. government has gone further to engage supportively with the ICC.
“The United States strongly supports the prosecution of those who are responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Consistent with the ICC principle of complementarity, and as longstanding U.S. policy, we support national efforts to achieve accountability.”-Mr. Rapp
According to Mr. Rapp, when the most grave and serious crimes are committed and there is no will or capacity to prosecute at the national level, most of the countries in the world have decided. He noted the United States accepts that justice will be delivered in the International Criminal Court.
Mr. Rapp underscored that the wolrd must work closely with their allies and friends who within the ICC, which may soon include the Republic of the Philippines, to strengthen the ICC, to make it the kind of institution that can be effective in investigating, prosecuting, and trying those responsible for these crimes.
“We want those arrest warrants to be executed. We want the guilty to be found guilty and the innocent not to suffer. We want the victims to achieve justice, and we hope that this will deter crimes and protect others from becoming victims in the future.”-Mr. Rapp
Mr. Rapp noted it is also important to recognize that ICC alone cannot meet the need for justice even in countries where the ICC is prosecuting cases with national cooperation. He stressed it needs the cooperation of the international community to prosecute war crimes perpetrators as well.