7 Jun 2003

Fiji dismisses criticism that it is reneging on its obligations to the International Criminal Court

9:28 am on 7 June 2003

Fiji is dismissing criticism of its negotiations with the United States on a deal not to hand over citizens of either country to the International Criminal Court.

Fiji has been criticised locally and abroad for reneging on its obligations to the ICC and for using the negotiations to restore full military ties with the US.

The foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola says the ICC and military ties with the US are not linked, and that Fiji authored the proposed agreement to guarantee its international obligations.

Fiji has ratified the Rome Statute setting up the ICC but the US has not.

Mr Tavola says the US must prove that it has laws to deal with crimes listed under the Rome Statute otherwise Fiji can extradite the accused to the ICC.

"for instance if an American has to be extradited we will get the approval of the Americans,...if that approval is absent, we don't extradite,.. but there will be guarantees that the crimes will be addressed by the proper legislation of the country, to deal with the crimes that are the subject of the Rome Statute"

Fiji Foreign Minister, Kaliopate Tavola

The US has already reached a non-surrender agreements with countries, such as Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru.