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 Zaude Hailemariam
Stockholm, Sweden.
28 March 2003, in Addis Tribune

Background

After the end of the Second World War, inter alia, the evolution of international criminal law, has attained progressive development, and supreme efforts for the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court or Tribunal, have been legitimately exerted, for rather a long time, in full accordance with the provisions of Article 13 (1) (a) of the UN Charter. As such, it is a welcome process. As it would be recalled, in earlier years, even for breach of laws of war, resposibility arose for commission of only international torts (see Schwarzenberger?s Manual of International Law p.170). Thus, for example, the fascist aggression against Ethiopia on 3rd October 1935, in glaring violation of the Covenant of the League of Nations, was, at the time, considered as a commission of only an international tort, and not as a violation of international criminal law.

In 1946, the Victors of the Global conflict, to their credit, established ad hoc Charters of International Military Tribunals of Nuremberg and Tokyo, to try and punish enemy officials, inter alia, for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity, which were committed earlier, during the Second World War in Europe and Asia and, as such, it was unanimously endorsed by the UN General Assembly. Nevertheless, despite the legitimate demands of Ethiopia, Italian war criminals, who had committed similar atrocities in Ethiopia, were neither tried nor punished at all! To add insult to injury, the Italian governments that succeeded the Fascist regime, to this day, have never even formally apologised for the said crimes, that had claimed more than 760,000 innocent Ethiopian lives, thus inducing professor Angelo del Boca to publish an immortal protest. In this connection, I beg leave to recall Professor Richard Pankhursts Article of 10 January 2003, where some of the said culpable fascists were named, in this very publication.

The Statute.

Under the above briefly noted circumstances, on 17 July 1998, in Rome, over a hundred member states of the United Nations adopted a treaty and framed a statute to establish, for the first time in the history of the world - a permanent international criminal court. This treaty entered into force on 1 July 2002, sixty days after sixty states had become parties to the statute, through ratification or accession. As indicated above, in the context of progressive development of public international law, this may be viewed positively, were it not for an unfortunate drawback.

The Impunity of Italian Fascists

The Italian government, which hosted the conference of plenipotentiaries that created the said statute, played, in 1998, an active and crucial role in the formulation of the instrument, not only for apparently legitimate reasons, but mainly for perpetuating the unwarranted impunity of Italian fascists, who had committed, genocide, grotesque war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ethiopia, during mid-1930s, by mustering with dexterity, legal-sleight-of-hand, which effectively limited the applicability of the statute only to crimes committed after first of July 2002. Latin legal jargon (nullum crimen sine lege) was called in aid, in this case only and not in the charters of the Nuremberg and Tokyo military tribunals, and the Genocide Convention of 9 December 1948, does not provide for time limitation or prevent retroactive culpability for war crimes. Therefore, in this regard, a glaring historical fraud is being advanced, even if it continues to lurk under other apparently pious claims. So far, Ethiopia has not signed the treaty, as it stands at the present moment. For their own reasons, USA, China, Israel and others have declared they would not be bound by it. It is our legitimate duty to expose this fraud, which, unfortunately, was not noted on the 14 March, 2003, issue of Addis Tribune.

 

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Thanks to Derrick Bell and his pioneer work: 
Race, Racism and American Law
(1993).