Bush Seeks Nations’ Pledges For US Immunity in ICC

The Bush administration is asking other nations to promise that they will not press charges against American peacekeepers and other personnel through the new International Criminal Court (ICC). So far, Romania and Israel have agreed that they will not send Americans to the ICC, which began operation last month to prosecute individuals for war crimes and genocide when national governments refuse to act. The Bush administration has strongly opposed the court, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. “It’s outrageous,” Alex Arriaga, director of governmental relations for Amnesty International USA, told the New York Times. “The US should be championing justice. It shouldn’t be running it down.”

The ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines gender crimes as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity. So far, 74 countries have ratified the Rome Treaty – on December 31, 2000 former President Bill Clinton added the US signature, which President Bush then renounced in May.

However, in light of severe criticism from some of its closest European allies, the Bush administration agreed to drop its demand for US immunity and instead opt for a compromise with the United Nations Security Council for a one-year exemption from prosecution. In preparation for the end of this exemption, the US is now hoping to enlist as many nations as possible in individual exemption agreements. Italy is among the nations that the Bush administration will approach next, according to the Times.


New York Times 8/7/02

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