The Bush administration cut off military aid to 35 friendly countries on Tuesday because they have signed on to the International Criminal Court without exempting Americans from possible prosecution. Countries include Brazil, Columbia, Ireland, Peru, South Africa, Switzerland and Venezuela. Democracy Now! hosts a debate on the International Criminal Court.
Overall some $48 million dollars in aid will be blocked.
The cuts were mandated under the American Service Members Protection Act which was passed by Congress last year. The express purpose of the ASPA is to ensure the ICC can never gain jurisdiction over members of the US military. The ASPA also includes a provision giving the president authorization to use all necessary means to free US servicemen being held by the ICC.
Under the 1998 Rome Protocol, which has been ratified by 90 countries including Washington’s closest NATO allies, the ICC was set up to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Former president Bill Clinton signed the Protocol in December 2000, but the Bush administration renounced the signature and withdrew from all negotiation to set up the ICC. The administration has sought a permanent exemption from prosecutions but these efforts have been blocked by the European Union. Under US pressure the UN Security Council gave the US a second one-year exemption earlier this month.
- Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary speaking on July 1, 2003.
- John Washburn, convenor of the American Non-Governmental Organizations on the International Criminal Court. He is a former director in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1988 to 1993.
- Lee Casey, attorney for Baker & Hostetler and former justice department lawyer under the Reagan and senior Bush Administrations.