|Subject: WP: U.S. Peacekeepers May Leave E.
Timor; Immunity Sought From War Crimes Court
The Washington Post Saturday, May 18, 2002
U.S. Peacekeepers May Leave E. Timor
Immunity Sought From War Crimes Court
By Colum Lynch Special to The Washington Post
UNITED NATIONS, May 17 -- The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
warned the Security Council today that Washington may withdraw a small
contingent of American peacekeepers in East Timor unless they receive
formal immunity from criminal prosecution by the new international war
crimes court, according to U.S. and other council diplomats.
The threat, issued in a closed-door session of the 15-nation council,
was made after several council members, including Washington's closest
allies, rejected a U.S. proposal to extend criminal immunity to all former
or current U.N. personnel serving in the mission.
The United States officially introduced the proposal for the first time
as an amendment to a resolution extending the mandate of the U.N.'s
peacekeeping mission in East Timor.
International peacekeepers were sent to East Timor in 1999 after a vote
for secession from Indonesia set off a brutal round of bloodshed. The
council's resolution calls for cutting 3,000 troops from the 8,000-strong
mission and phasing it out over two years.
The United States last week renounced the International Criminal Court,
which will be formally established in July, citing concerns that it may
prosecute U.S. troops or other officials serving overseas. It said it
would seek agreements around the world barring U.S. citizens from being
extradited to the court.
The U.S. ambassador, John D. Negroponte, stopped short of blocking
passage of the resolution. But he said the United States reserved the
right to return to the council to make its case again before the court
begins operations, diplomats said.
U.S. officials said they are seeking to establish a legal precedent in
East Timor that could be applied to all U.N. peacekeeping missions. They
said they may ultimately withdraw American citizens from all 15 United
Nations peacekeeping missions.
There are three Americans in East Timor as unarmed military observers,
about 80 U.S. police and an unknown number of civilian officials serving
in the mission.
Britain, France, Norway, Ireland, Colombia and Guinea said the U.S.
demands were unacceptable. "The U.S. amendment is a violation of the
[ICC] treaty," said Jean-David Levitte, the French U.N. ambassador.
"I would be in violation of [my country's] own laws if I supported a
text that went against the International Criminal Court."
Back to May menu
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
Note: For those who would like to fax "the
powers that be" - CallCenter is a Native 32-bit Voice Telephony software
application integrated with fax and data communications... and it's free of charge!
Download from http://www.v3inc.com/