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NYTimes.com Article: Europeans to Exempt U.S. From War Court
by swsystem
01 October 2002 13:18 UTC
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This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by swsystem@aol.com.

Although I basically agree with John Leonard's comments a couple of days ago 
about a divergence between a relatively progressive EU and a reactionary US, 
this news makes me worry.  Are the Europeans going to be equally spineless 
about letting the US have its way with Iraq?

Steven Sherman


Europeans to Exempt U.S. From War Court

October 1, 2002


BRUSSELS, Sept 30 - The 15 nations of the European Union
agreed today to exempt American soldiers and government
officials from prosecution for war crimes at the
International Criminal Court, an issue that had troubled
trans-Atlantic relations for several months. 

The compromise, reached at a meeting of European Union
foreign ministers, came close to the blanket immunity for
American government employees sought by the Bush
administration, although European officials emphasized that
in their view it did not undermine the court, which the
administration has opposed. 

"There is no concession," said Per Stig Moller, foreign
minister of Denmark, which currently holds the presidency
of the European Union. "There is no undermining of the
International Criminal Court." 

At a briefing in Washington, the State Department
spokesman, Richard A. Boucher, said: "We'll study the
details of the European Union's decision very closely, and
we'll look forward to discussing it in more detail with
member states." 

Diplomats said today's deal had been pushed hardest by
Britain and by Italy and Spain, whose conservative
governments are ideologically closer to the Bush
administration than, say, the German government. 

France, Germany, Belgium and Sweden offered the stiffest
resistance to any form of exemption for American citizens,
diplomats said. 

The deal that the 15 governments agreed to prevents them
from extraditing American government employees accused of
war crimes to the court, on the condition that the United
States government guarantee that such a suspect would be
tried in an American court. 

The Bush administration has been pressing governments
around the world to sign bilateral agreements not to send
American citizens to the International Criminal Court,
which is an outgrowth of the ad hoc tribunals set up by the
United Nations, with American support, to try war crimes
committed in the Balkans and in Rwanda in the 1990's. 

The administration fears that with the creation of a
permanent court to try alleged war crimes committed
anywhere in the world, Americans in peacekeeping or
overseas military operations could become targets of
politically motivated trials. 

Several American nongovernmental organizations have banded
together to support formation of the new international
court, and their representatives said they were
disappointed by today's agreement. 

"We are disappointed the E.U. did not take a stronger
position amid pressure from the United States, but we agree
the I.C.C. has not been de-legitimised by this agreement,"
said Heather Hamilton, spokeswoman for the World Federalist
Association, one of the groups. 

Today's agreement allows any European Union nation to sign
a separate bilateral agreement with the United States over
the court. Germany has been a staunch opponent of this, but
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer noted that today's accord
"is very important because the Milosevics and Pinochets of
tomorrow will be brought to justice," referring to the
former authoritarian leaders of Yugoslavia and Chile. 

Britain and Italy are believed to be considering signing
bilateral agreements with the United Sates, but diplomats
said today's agreement makes such a move less likely. "The
E.U. does now appear united on this question," said one
diplomat, although differences remain beneath the surface
of the compromise. 

"This unity could turn out to be no more than skin deep if
individual E.U. members go ahead and sign agreements with
the United States," the diplomat said. 

So far, 12 countries outside the European Union have
promised not to extradite American citizens to the court. 

The European Union is among those who pushed hardest for an
international court, under the auspices of the United
Nations, to deal with cases involving genocide, atrocities,
war crimes and systematic human rights abuses. More than 80
countries have ratified the court's founding treaty.
Notable exceptions include the United States, Israel and
most Arab countries. 

The court will be based in The Hague, where Slobodan
Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia, is on trial
on charges that he committed war crimes during the Balkan
wars of the 1990's.


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