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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
War crimes court swears in prosecutor
Luis Moreno-Ocampo
Moreno-Ocampo: Protect the life of any person in any country
The new International Criminal Court in The Hague has sworn in its first chief prosecutor - Argentinian lawyer Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

The veteran civil rights defender faces a backlog of more than 200 referrals brought before the ICC since it opened its doors last July.

He is also starting work at a time when United States opposition to the prosecution of its military personnel, deployed across the globe from South Korea to Iraq, is particularly strong.

Only last week, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was threatening to block further funding for Nato's new headquarters in Belgium because of laws there which allow Belgian courts to try war crimes wherever they are committed around the world.

Reach of ICC
90 countries have ratified the Rome treaty which established the court
139 countries are signatories to the treaty

At the same time the US secured another year of immunity from prosecution from the ICC at a vote in the United Nations Security Council which it requested itself.

Adding to the difficulties facing the new court is the equal non-cooperation of Russia and China.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo used his acceptance speech at the ceremony in The Hague's Peace Palace to make a plea for justice for all.

"We must learn there is no safe haven for life and freedom if we fail to protect the life of any person in any country in the world," he said.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo made his name prosecuting members of Argentina's military junta for human rights abuses during the 1980-84 "dirty war".

Profile: Luis Moreno Ocampo
21 Apr 03  |  Americas

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