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U.S. Lays Sanctions on Key Allies for Supporting International Court PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Friday, 26 November 2004 03:01

U.S. Lays Sanctions o­n Key Allies for Supporting International Court

Congress Cuts Anti-Terror, Development Funds to Key Allies over ICC Exemptions

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The omnibus appropriations bill scheduled for final House approval today contains a controversial amendment that will impose further sanctions o­n countries that have ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty.

The amendment, originally included in the House version of the foreign aid spending bill in July, would prohibit assistance from the Economic Support Fund (ESF) for countries that have refused to sign a "bilateral immunity agreement" to shield U.S. citizens and certain foreign nationals from transfer to the ICC for investigation or prosecution for atrocities or genocide. The funds affected include support for anti-terrorism activities, peace building, democratization and counter-drug initiatives.

"This new round of sanctions is particularly unnecessary given the fact that the court has been in existence for over two full years now with clear evidence that it's a fair and impartial institution," said Brian Thompson, Program Manager for International Law and Justice at Citizens for Global Solutions. "Not o­nly has the prosecutor taken up some of the most appalling crimes against humanity in the Congo and Uganda, but he's also publicly rejected pursuing allegations against the U.S. and the U.K. in Iraq."

With a budget of over $2.5 billion, the Economic Support Fund (ESF) promotes the foreign policy interests of the United States by providing assistance to allies. Many of these allies have standing SOFAs (Status of Forces Agreements) with the U.S. that expand U.S. jurisdiction to include all U.S. personnel within their territory. "This latest sanction undermines the effectiveness of U.S. counter-terrorism efforts and does nothing to protect our soldiers, who are already protected under existing status of forces agreements," continued Thompson. Key programs funded under the ESF include the Irish Peace Process, South African counter-terrorist activities and the Andean Counter-drug Initiative, which would provide $500,000 to Venezuela, a major route for illegal drugs to the U.S.

Many of the countries affected have already had military assistance withheld under previous legislation, but the latest provision expands funding cuts and includes additional countries. Over fifty nations could be affected, including Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, and Cyprus. These countries have concluded that that they are not legally permitted to sign the agreements proposed by the U.S. because the agreements are broader and more extreme than what is allowed under Article 98 of the treaty. "Many of these countries have already lost millions in U.S. military assistance over their position," notes Thompson. "Cutting more aid will not change their minds, but will undermine our diplomatic relations and weaken our ability to cooperate with them in the global effort against terrorism and other U.S. priorities."

In speaking out against the amendment in July, Sub-Committee chair Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) said that conditioning economic support "is a very, very heavy hand. At a time when we are fighting the war o­n terrorism, reducing this tool of diplomatic influence is not a good idea." The amendment is expected to permit the President to waive the restriction for certain major non-NATO allies and recipients of the Millennium fund. However, the administration has not exercised a similar waiver authority for military aid restrictions under the 2002 American Servicemembers Protection Act.

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Notes to Editors:

Citizens for Global Solutions is a nonpartisan U.S. membership organization that works for cooperative U.S. global engagement and supports strong and effective international institutions to solve problems nations cannot solve alone. http://www.globalsolutions.org



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Last Updated on Friday, 26 November 2004 03:01
 

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