New Zealand

Rome Statute Oct. 7, 1998 Sept. 7, 2000
APIC Oct. 22, 2002 April 14, 2004

Implementation Notes

The International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act (“ICC Act”) is a comprehensive piece of legislation incorporating the crimes contained in the Rome Statute into New Zealand law and establishing a thorough cooperation regime. The Act was enacted in September 2000, shortly before New Zealand’s ratification of the Rome Statute in the same month, which made New Zealand the 17th State Party to the Rome Statute (New Zealand had signed in October 1998). New Zealand was one of the first States to enact legislation implementing the Rome Statute into domestic law.

The crimes contained in the Rome Statute are directly incorporated into New Zealand law, with some exceptions. The direct incorporation of the majority of Rome Statute crimes ensures that New Zealand will be able to fulfil its role under the ICC’s complementarity regime.

Genocide and crimes against humanity both have a limited retrospective application. Proceedings may be brought in relation to acts of genocide which occurred after 28 March 1979 (the date on which New Zealand ratified the Genocide Convention, and crimes against humanity which occurred after 1 January 1991 (when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia established jurisdiction over crimes against humanity). The conduct that makes up these crimes had largely already been criminalised under New Zealand law. They had not, however, been labelled as “genocide” or “crimes against humanity”.

The ICC Act establishes universal jurisdiction over the core crimes contained in the Rome Statute, with the effect that proceedings may be brought in relation to conduct regardless of the location of the crime or the nationality of the offender. The person need not even be present in New Zealand when proceedings are initiated (although in absentia trials are not permitted under New Zealand law). Part of the rationale behind this was to reflect an “international consensus”, that such action was or should be criminal everywhere (See Juliet Hay, “Implementing the ICC Statute in New Zealand”, 2 Journal of International Criminal Justice (2004) 191, 196). Territorial and nationality jurisdiction are retained only for offences against the administration of justice.

The ICC Act creates a sui generis regime to govern cooperation with the ICC, rather than opting to rely on existing procedures. Whilst the ICC Act expressly states that the official capacity of a person is no bar to cooperation with the ICC, there is no similar provision to extend this to domestic proceedings. The fair trial standards found in the Rome Statute are not transferred into the ICC Act. However, New Zealand’s domestic laws and trial standards are already considered to reflect international standards (See Human Rights Watch, Implementation Strategies Adopted by: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom and South Africa, December 2002). The legislation explicitly allows for the facilitation of requests from defendants appearing before the ICC.

The ICC Act is in general a thorough, comprehensive example of implementing legislation.

National Implementing Legislation

International Crimes and International Criminal Court Act 2000

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