Kathmandu, December 11:

A visiting official of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has suggested the government to sign the Rome Statute to become an ICC member country and end impunity that the human rights offenders are currently enjoying.

“Such a move will pave the way for better rule of law and an end to impunity in the country,” said ICC judge Navanethem Pillay, talking exclusively to The Himalayan Times.

“Nepal favours fundamental rights and freedom of people as it has signed a number of UN Conventions,” said Pillay, who presided a tribunal in Rwanda that dealt with criminal cases till 2003, the year she was appointed an ICC judge representing the African countries for a six-year term.

Pillay, now in Kathmandu to participate in a conference slated to begin Thursday, said the people in Nepal want to see rights offenders brought to justice and they have been demanding that the government sign the Statute. She also appreciated the interim parliament for instructing the government to sign the Rome Statute in July 2006. After the parliamentary directive, the government had conducted a study on implications of signing the Statute.

“As a judge, I have a general experience that most of the rulers do not want to face prosecution on the charge of violation of human rights; thus they are not ready to be a member state of the ICC,” she added. The Netherlands based ICC looks into cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crimes of aggression occurring in any member state.

Pillay also added that the ICC would not apply its jurisdiction on the decade-long Maoist insurgency here.

“The ICC jurisdiction cannot be applied on the previous crimes in general, except for

the crimes against humanity,” she added. “If the cases of enforced disappearance continue till the signing of the Statute, the ICC can apply its jurisdiction,” she added.

“It is necessary for a country like Nepal to become a member of the ICC, which helps end impunity and promote the rights of the people,” Pillay said.

She said the civil society should put pressure on the government to sign the Statute. She hoped that Nepal will be a party to the ICC ultimately.

After years of diplomatic negotiations, the Statute for the International Criminal Court was adopted in July 1998 during a conference in Rome.