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Mission of Parliamentarians from El Salvador to the ICC, September 2010

Visit by Delegation of Parliamentarians from El Salvador to The Hague, Netherlands
5-7 September 2010

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Estudio Agora con Jose Zepeda, RNW  (broadcasted 11 and 15 September 2010)
Diputados salvadoreños en visita oficial a la Corte Penal Internacional de La Haya

Salvadorian MPs ready to ratify the Rome Statute

Under the leadership of Dip. Sigfrido Reyes (PGA; FMLN; Deputy Speaker) a multi-party delegation of parliamentarians from EL Salvador travelled to The Hague to meet with senior officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), experts, diplomats and fellow parliamentarians in order to address lingering political and legal  concerns and obstacles to achieving consensus among all political groups represented in the Parliament of El Salvador in supporting the ratification of the Rome Statute.

The meetings with both the ICC President, Judge Sang-Hyun Song and Registrar Ms. Silvana Arbia provided the delegation with a first hand and helpful overview of the broad challenges faced by the Court in the implementation of its mandate of protection of victims and enforcement of arrest warrants, as well as in the application of the general principles of law enshrined in Part III of the Rome Statute. The meeting with the ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo and current ICC Consultant Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon helped to clarify a number of legal issues, including on the specific operation of the principle of complementarity and the nature of the interaction between the domestic legal order of El Salvador with the Rome Statute.

In an interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide journalist Jose Zepeda, the Parliamentarians, drawn from across the political spectrum in El Salvador, all agreed that there was a need for a discussion on the prospects of ratification at the level of the National Assembly. The Legislators agreed that, given that misconceptions and misperceptions around the Rome Statute had now been clarified, there was room for consensus in favour of ratification. The Parliamentarians therefore called upon President Mauricio Funes to urgently transmit the Bill of Ratification to the Assembly. The MPs also undertook to work further on this issue which in their view fell squarely within the existing national priority of continuing the implementation of the commitments to justice-reform and the Rule of Law made in the Chapultepec Peace Agreements eighteen years ago.

In discussions with their Dutch peers within the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament, the Parliamentarians from El Salvador formed a consensus to work to expand and broaden knowledge about the ICC in El Salvador and upholding the universal, and not regionally-specific, ownership of the right of all to be free from the scourge of international crimes.

As stated by Chilean Senator Carlos Cantero (PGA member), who accompanied the delegation from El Salvador, PGA will continue to work with Salvadorian MPs from all political parties to encourage and support the political will and legislative process necessary for the ratification and implementation of the ICC Statute: The lessons learned from Chile and other countries could be duly taken into account in this process. Reflecting their commitment to follow-up upon their return to El Salvador, the members of the Delegation all decided to join PGA at the end of the visit. PGA will also build on its existing partnerships with international organisations to ensure that regional or sub-regional frameworks will not be seen as causing further delays to El Salvador?s membership in the ICC system.

1.    Dip. Federico Guillermo Ávila Quelh (ARENA), Chair, Legislation and Constitutional Issues Committee
2.    Dip. José Rafael Machuca Zelaya (PCN), Justice and Human Rights Committee, and Legislation and Constitution Committee.  
3.    Dip. Othon Sigfrido Reyes Morales (FMLN), PGA member, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.
4.    Dip. Jackeline Noemí Rivera Avalos (FMLN), Foreign Affairs Committee and Constitutional and Electoral Issues Committee.
5.    Dip. Mario Alberto Tenorio Guerrero (GANA), Secretary of the Board of the Assembly.
6.    Dip. Francisco José Zablah Safie (Lideres por el Cambio) Budget Committee.
7.    Dr. Oscar Santamaría Legal Advisor to the ARENA Block in Parliament. Former Minister of Justice and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Accompanied by
8.    Sen. Carlos Cantero (Chile) International Council of PGA, former RN currently Independent

Background on El Salvador
EL Salvador is one of the nine countries in the Americas that has yet to become a party to the Rome Statute. The ratification by El Salvador of the Rome Statute is desirable, both as a measure of reparation to the victims of serious crimes during the civil conflict and as a guarantee of non-repetition of such crimes.

Related PGA Activities
PGA Consultation in El Salvador, September 2009

For more information contact: deborah.ruiz@pgaction.org
Updated September 21, 2010