Governments must not exempt USA citizens from justice

A new report entitled 'International Criminal Court: The US campaign to obtain impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes' shows how the immunity agreements sought by the USA violate both the spirit and letter of the Rome Statute establishing the ICC. States Parties to any treaty are obliged to respect its provisions, its object and its purpose and even those countries that have only signed a treaty must refrain from actions which undermine it. States cannot, in good faith, reconcile these obligations with the conclusion of a US impunity agreement.

Amnesty International says that when legal advisers from the 15 European Union members meet tomorrow, they should take the lead by asking member states to refuse bilateral agreements.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK said:

'The ICC was created to help ensure that people accused of horrendous crimes are brought to justice, not to provide impunity to US nationals. These agreements seek to undermine and weaken the ICC and cannot be justified by any provision of its founding Statute.'

Background

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of 27 August 2002, 78 states had ratified it; 139 states have signed it. It is expected that the Court will be operational in the first half of 2003.

The USA has been the only state actively to oppose the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Since the adoption of the Rome Statute in July 1998, the US has sought an exemption for US nationals from the jurisdiction of the Court.

Amnesty International, other non-government organizations and governments, including the United Kingdom government, have repeatedly demonstrated that US fears that the Court could be used for politically motivated prosecutions against US nationals are unfounded. This is because the Rome Statute contains substantial safeguards and fair trial guarantees that it is extremely unlikely that such a situation would arise.

A copy of the report 'International Criminal Court: The US efforts to obtain impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes', will shortly be available from: www.amnesty.org/icc

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