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U.N. Expected to Act Today on Ban of War-crimes Trial Limitations

March 28, 1966
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A resolution calling for the drafting of an international Convention that would ban statutes of limitations on trials and punishment of Nazi war criminals and others accused of “crimes against humanity,” was expected here today to be passed tomorrow by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. After Israel amended the draft resolution on this subject, and was backed by the United States and France, among others, Fernando Volio Jimenez, of Costa Rica, chairman of the Commission, expressed his belief that the resolution might be “acceptable to all members” of the 21-man body.

Israel’s Associate Supreme Court Justice Haim H. Cohn, who represents Israel on the Commission, introduced an amendment which would authorize the Commission to prepare “as a matter of priority” a Convention “to the effect that no statutory limitation shall apply to war crimes and crimes against humanity, irrespective of the date of their commission.” Another statement, presented by Poland, would also call on all governments “to continue their efforts to ensure the arrest, extradition and punishment” of the war criminals.

The Commission was called upon by Israel, Austria, the Netherlands and New Zealand, sponsors of the move for a Convention, to take action in time for passage by the entire United Nations at the next session of the General Assembly, which is to convene in September. The United States and France joined Israel and the three other movers of the resolution as co-sponsors. Morris B. Abram, U.S. representative in the Commission, took the floor and expressed the hope that the resolution would be adopted.


Dr. Maurice L. Perlzweig, permanent representative of the World Jewish Congress at the United Nations, appealed to the Commission this weekend to take prompt action on the banning of statutes of limitations affecting Nazi war criminals. He told the Commission that the WJC, in cooperation with the prosecuting authorities of a number of countries, “had traced more than 1,000 eyewitnesses of such crimes,” and that 300 of the witnesses had given testimony in person at trials of ex-Nazis in Europe.

Dr. Perlzweig pointed out that local statutes of limitations in some countries “had already given immunity to some of the most notorious war criminals” and referred to cases where attempts made to extradite known criminals failed because the courts in the countries concerned upheld local statutes to protect such persons.”

Another non-governmental representative told the Commission that an International Criminal Court should be established for trying Nazi war criminals and others accused of crimes against humanity. That proposal was made by Dr. Isaac Schifnagel, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, a Jew, who is secretary-general of the Brazilian Institute for Human Rights.

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