Posted by Sadie from ? (188.8.131.52) on Tuesday, July 01, 2003 at 12:01PM :
US threatens sanctions over ICC
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
BBC World News
Dozens of countries face the loss of United States military aid, because they have not met a Tuesday deadline to grant American soldiers immunity from prosecution for war crimes, the US says.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the protection of US citizens from the threat of being hauled before the new International Criminal Court (ICC) was a significant matter in relations with other countries.
The US does not recognise the ICC, saying its forces could be subjected to politically-motivated prosecution.
The court, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, can try individuals for war crimes committed after 1 July anywhere in the world.
Washington has concluded bilateral agreements with more than 50 nations to secure exemption for US troops.
Nato members and other key allies - such as Israel, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand - are exempt from any penalty if they refuse.
Others face cuts in military aid, under the American Service members Protection Act approved last year by the US Congress.
However Mr Boucher said the US administration might waive the aid suspension for countries regarded as crucial to Washington's strategic interests.
"In implementing the act, we'll need to balance our broader bilateral interests with substantial consideration to the risk posed to US citizens... by the potential for politically motivated charges," he said.
Mr Boucher declined to identify the countries that would be exempt from cuts in military aid.
For those facing sanctions, he added, the cuts will not be immediate.
"But it's an important issue that will take hold over time," Mr Boucher said.
The BBC's Gabriel Partos says that the American demand for immunity from war-crimes prosecution has created a particular dilemma in the Balkans.
South-east European countries welcome Washington's military aid, but are also under pressure from the EU - a strong backer of the ICC - not to conclude immunity deals.
Croatia, a EU candidate state, has refused to sign such an agreement for the time being.
Others, including Romania, Albania, and Bosnia-Hercegovina, have granted immunity to US forces.
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