Dutch Foreign minister Bert Koenders said that within the next year more than 50 countries will begin negotiations on a multilateral treaty on legal assistance and extradition to apply in cases involving international crimes. It is intended to make it easier for countries to extradite individuals suspected of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity, and to cooperate in the area of legal assistance.
The initiative was taken by the Netherlands, working together with Argentina, Belgium and Slovenia. ‘Dozens of other countries have now said that they would like to join talks on the treaty with more countries expected to become involved in due course,’ said Mr Koenders, who hopes that the new treaty will help ensure that suspects cannot evade justice.
‘There are already many arrangements in place between countries,’ the foreign minister said, ‘but in some cases they can be insufficient or don’t involve a particular country that holds crucial information or is home to a particular suspect. A multilateral treaty should enable us to close the gaps in the existing network and proceed more quickly.’
The International Criminal Court (ICC) tries individuals suspected of genocide, war crimes and other crimes against humanity in cases where their own countries are unwilling or unable to do so. Since the Court was set up in 2002, the number of parties to its founding statute has more than doubled, from 60 to 124. Yet Mr Koenders wants to see this number grow further.
‘No state that is genuinely committed to upholding the rule of law, no state that truly wants to hold perpetrators of international crimes to account, should hesitate to become a party to the Statute,’ he said.