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Swiss oppose US extradition deal

The ICC in The Hague begins work next month

(Keystone)

Switzerland is challenging a United States request to extend a deal exempting the country's peacekeepers from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Together with five other countries, the Swiss have called on the United Nations Security Council to debate the proposed one-year extension.

On Monday Washington said it was seeking an extension of UN resolution 1422, which came into force in July last year.

The resolution granted peacekeepers from non-signatory countries to the 1998 Rome Statute - which drew up the legal framework for the ICC - freedom from prosecution for a period of 12 months.

Switzerland, which expressed scepticism when the original deal was struck, says it is opposed to the US demand for a further one-year exemption.

"Switzerland always wanted the ICC to be a very strong institution. This means that a lot of countries take part in it and everybody accepts the same rules," Ruedi Christen, spokesman for the Swiss Mission to the UN in New York, told swissinfo.

International law

Even though critics say resolution 1422 has weakened the credibility of international law, Christen does not think an extension of the exemption would damage the court's clout.

"I don't think this request will weaken the ICC but, of course, it would be better if a lot of people and also the big countries became members and accepted the same rules as all other countries," he said.

The ICC was established to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and systematic human rights abuses committed after July 1, 2002.

However, it will only step in when states are unwilling or unable to dispense justice.

Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the court is due to start work next month.

swissinfo, Billi Bierling

Key Facts

UN resolution 1422 came into force in July last year.
The court is due to start processing cases next month.
The ICC was established to try individuals for war crimes committed after July 1, 2002.

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