Human Rights Watch today applauded Uruguay's signing of the Rome Treaty for the International Criminal Court. With this signature, 121 states have signed the treaty, including almost all of Latin America.

Three Central American countries stand out for their failure to sign the treaty: Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The treaty is open to signature until December 31, 2000.   
 
"The people of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua have experienced the horrors of internal armed conflict first-hand," said Brigitte Suhr, counsel to Human Rights Watch. "The leaders of these three nations have the chance to affirm their break with the past by signing the treaty before the deadline of December 31."  
 
The International Criminal Court will provide justice and accountability for those responsible for the most serious human rights crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The court will be set up once sixty countries have ratified the treaty. The court will not have jurisdiction over crimes that occurred before that date.  
 
So far, twenty-five states have ratified. Sixty ratifications are expected by mid-2002. The International Criminal Court is one of the most important advances in human rights protection in decades.