Expatica news

US abandons The Hague immunity resolution

25 June 2004

AMSTERDAM — The US gave up this week its attempt via the United Nations to claim immunity for American troops from war crimes prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

There was insufficient support in the UN Security Council for an extension to a resolution preventing the prosecution of US soldiers and diplomats in the international court, Dutch newspaper NRC reported on Friday.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the US decision on Wednesday to abandon its attempts and said unity in the Security Council had been preserved in a difficult period.

Annan had criticised the US request for immunity last week, saying it was “of dubious legal merit”. In light of the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Gharib prison, he said the US attempt to obtain immunity was at best awkward.

The deputy US ambassador to the UN, James Cunningham, said to prevent disunity in the Security Council, Washington would abandon its efforts to extend the resolution granting Americans immunity. The resolution of 2002, extended last year, will lapse at the end of this month.

But the treaties the US has signed with 89 nations that prevents the extradition of US nationals to the ICC remain in force. The White House is concerned about the possibility of politically motivated legal processes against Americans.

It had previously threatened to abandon co-operation on UN peacekeeping missions if American citizens are placed at risk of prosecution in the court, which was inaugurated in March 2003. It is now reconsidering its participation in all peacekeeping operations.

US President George Bush signed into law in August 2002 an Act authorising military force to liberate any American or citizen of a US-allied country being held by the court, Human Rights Watch said on its website.

Dubbed the “Hague invasion clause”, the legislation sparked sharp criticism from US allies, particularly in the Netherlands, which is theoretically threatened with an invasion if US citizens are detained by the court.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news