(Rome) - Human Rights Watch today expressed disappointment at the speech of Dilip Lahiri, head of Indian Delegation to the conference gathered in Rome to formulate an International Criminal Court (ICC).
 
In his speech before delegates from more than 150 countries, Dilip Lahiri emphasized that "the ICC should be based on the principles of complementarity, state sovereignty, and non- intervention in internal affairs of state.''  
 
The proposed ICC will investigate, prosecute, and punish future acts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. More than 50 countries have banded together in a "like-minded group" to ensure that the court has sufficient independence from national governments to be effective.  
 
"We regret that India is using the concept of state sovereignty to undermine the effectiveness of this court," said Richard Dicker, who leads the ICC campaign for Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring organization based in New York. "India is opposing an independent prosecutor for this court, and is denying that genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, are crimes with universal jurisdiction - that is, crimes that any state can prosecute." According to India's conception, the International Criminal Court would have even less authority over these crimes than individual state courts now do.  
 
In his speech, Dilip Lahiri urged that the treaty "should be such as to attract the widest acceptance." 
 
"We also hope that many states sign and ratify this treaty,'said Dicker. 'But the price of wide participation should not be the quality of the court. It's more important to have a good court, than to have a bad court with a lot of signatures on it."