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China Skeptical About Jurisdiction of International Criminal Court - 2002-07-11

This week's intense United Nations discussions over the International Criminal Court finds the United States and China on the same side of an issue. Both nations complain that the court might have too much power.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao says China has not agreed to join the court because Beijing has many questions about how it will work.

Mr. Liu said the court agreement does not yet do enough to spell out its jurisdiction, such as what cases and crimes could be tried. He added there should be more "checks and balances" on investigators and prosecutors.

The International Criminal Court is the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal. It will prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if countries are unable or unwilling to dispense justice themselves.

The United States has drawn considerable international criticism for its refusal to join the court. Washington is demanding immunity from prosecution for U.S. participants in U.N. peacekeeping operations. The Americans say that otherwise, U.S. troops and officials might face frivolous or politically motivated charges.

The court opened last week in the Hague. The U.N. Security Council has been holding discussions on the court this week. So far 76 nations have ratified the 1998 Rome treaty setting up the court.