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The creation of an International Criminal Court to try war crimes has moved a step closer with the publication of a draft bill in Britain. The bill is out for consultation until October 12, and it is hoped the court will be established in 2002. Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain says, “As one of the leading countries behind establishing the International Criminal Court, we want to ratify the treaty as soon as possible and be one of the first 60 countries ratifying to bring it into force,” he says. However, the announcement highlights an official split between U.K. and U.S. policy. The U.S. is among seven countries, including India, China and Israel, which are against the 1998 treaty. The U.S. claims that because it has more troops serving abroad than any other country, it cannot allow its soldiers or leaders to be subjected to the jurisdiction of an international court over which it has little or no influence. The U.S. government is lobbying for a declaration that the court will not have jurisdiction over citizens from countries which have not ratified the treaty. Kate Allen, Amnesty International’s U.K. director, says, “Without an International Criminal Court there can be no justice for the victims of many of the worst crimes imaginable and no hope of deterring those who would contemplate such crimes.”

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