A recent congressional committee decision sets Peru on track to incorporate the ICC Rome Statute into its domestic law, criminalizing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Long fought for by civil society, the move is a welcome step. Congress is now called to act promptly.
Last month, the justice and human rights committee announced that it had approved 152 bills amending Peru’s criminal code, including one incorporating Rome Statute crimes and principles. The draft code will now be submitted to congress for debate before it will be put to a vote.
The Rome Statute bill was among only a few of the 152 that had the support of almost every political group in congress, sending an important message of unity.
The approval of the draft code potentially has big consequences. The Rome Statute envisions a complementary system of justice, where states assume primary jurisdiction and the ICC steps in only as a “court of last resort.”
By incorporating Rome Statute crimes into its criminal code, Peru would empower itself to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide—along with the crime of aggression.
Peru has already enacted extensive legislation enabling effective cooperation with the ICC, one of the only countries in the region to do so.
Peruvian civil society—including several of our Coalition members—has long called on lawmakers to implement the Rome Statute domestically, pushing the process forward with government officials and lawmakers.
In past decades, three different implementation bills have failed to progress through the justice and human rights committee. Coalition members gave considerable input to these bills, including the recently approved bill.
However, this important step does not mean that the work is over. The draft code must now be formally placed on the agenda of the plenary of congress for discussion – with a number of bills to be discussed; this can sometimes be a lengthy process.
In the meantime, civil society will continue its advocacy in order to garner as much support for the implementation of Rome Statute crimes.
Under our Campaign for Global Justice, the incorporation of the Rome Statute into domestic law is one of our top priorities in Latin America—a region with high representation among ICC member states.
By completing the process, Peru can be an example for other Latin American states to follow on their own paths to becoming full-fledged participants in the fight against impunity.
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