The American government supports a law prohibiting military assistance to States that have ratified the International Criminal Court Statute (ICC)!

While the American government is attempting to achieve the widest cooperation of States, including on the judiciary level, in order to fight terrorism in response to the horrific attacks on New York and Washington on the 11th of September, the same government supports a law against the International Criminal Court, which was introduced yesterday to the American Congress.

The law entitled "American Service member Protection Act" (ASPA) would:
- Prohibit all American cooperation with the ICC;
- Prohibit all military assistance to most of the States that have ratified the Rome Statute (excluding NATO States and the "major non-NATO allies" as well as Taiwan);
- Prohibit the transmission of US national security or law enforcement information States that have ratified the ICC Statute;
- Restrict American participation in UN peace-keeping operations;
- Authorise the President to use "all necessary and appropriate means" to liberate an American citizen detained by the ICC - language which traditionally includes the use of force

This legislation does include the possibility - strictly delimited - for the President to waive those prohibitions. Yet, this law really deserves its nickname, " Hague Invasion Act ", in reference to the Headquarters of the future International Criminal Court.

Though the Congress did not vote the law yesterday, Mr. Helms, ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee intends to grasp any legislative opportunity to put it back on the agenda. This law appears to be part of a compromise reached by the government with some Republican members of Congress, so that they would agree to pass the law authorising the payment of overdue U.S. arrears to the UN.

If it were to be adopted, this bill would be an insult to all the victims expecting the establishment of the International Criminal Court, and to all the States that have achieved important efforts to contribute to an effective international fight against impunity.

It threatens the whole ratification process of the International Criminal Court and would seriously hinder the functioning of the future Court.

As of today, 42 States have ratified the Statute. But the States the bill targets as those that might not receive any American military cooperation are precisely those that most need support for the ratification. Those are mainly African, Asian and Arab States.

Finally, in the current situation, this law is totally contrary to the proclaimed American intention to increase international law enforcement cooperation in bringing to justice the authors of terrorist crimes, while the International Criminal Court will bring to justice the perpetrators of the world’s worst crimes.

This dangerous legislation simply should be dropped and President Bush should strongly oppose it. Today, the FIDH solemnly calls on the highest American authorities to do so.

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