nix ICC immunity for American soldiers
ABS-CBNNEWS, 4 July, 2004-- At least 30 governments have refused
to sign bilateral agreements with Washington that give immunity to US soldiers
from prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the expense of
losing military aid.
The International Coalition for the ICC (ICICC) listed the
countries approached by the US to sign the bilateral immunity agreements
(BIAs), and at least 90 signed agreements for fear of losing US military and
The US, at the same time, has started pulling out its forces from
strife-torn countries like Kosovo, as well as Africa’s Eritrea and Ethiopia,
owing to the absence of immunity agreements with these countries.
The Philippines is one of the 90 countries that have signed
bilateral immunity agreements with the US.
Most of the countries that turned down the US request for the
agreement are in Europe, including Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria,
Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal and Greece.
At least 94 governments have ratified the 1998 Rome Statute that
created the ICC. The court, that is now on its second year, has started
handling cases of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
Other European governments that refused to sign the immunity
agreement with the US include Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Croatia, Lithuania and
English Commonwealth countries Canada and New Zealand, have also
shut the doors on the US proposal for a bilateral agreement.
The ICC was established to try war crimes, genocide and other
crimes against humanity.
The US State Department, as of July 1 last year, denied military assistance
to countries that refused to sign immunity agreements.
Latin American countries like Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru
and Venezuela, have likewise refused to sign bilateral agreements with the US.
Argentina for instance, rejected the US’ request for an immunity agreement
through a unanimous vote by its Senate.
Other governments that refused to sign immunity agreements with
the US include Indonesia, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Namibia, Dominica
and Central African Republic.
William Pace, convenor of the Coalition for the ICC said the US
is still pressuring other governments to sign immunity agreements to prevent
the prosecution of their soldiers under the criminal court.