|Subject: KY/Lusa: U.S. rights group
expresses concern over immunity grant to US
Also - Lusa: Rights group slams immunity grant to US troops
U.S. rights group expresses concern over grant of immunity
JAKARTA, Aug. 28 (Kyodo) _ A U.S.-based nongovernmental organization has expressed concern over a decision by the East Timorese government to exempt U.S. military personnel from prosecution in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
''We are deeply disturbed and angered that the U.S. government pressured East Timor to exempt U.S. troops from the ICC,'' John Miller, spokesman of the East Timor Action Network, said in a statement received Wednesday.
''The East Timorese suffered greatly during the U.S.-supported illegal occupation of their homeland when the Indonesian military committed the very crimes that the ICC is designed to discourage,'' he added.
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush is seeking to negotiate ICC member states to grant immunity to U.S. peacekeepers under Article 98 of the Rome Treaty. East Timor is the third country to sign the Article 98 accord with the United States following Israel and Romania.
The Rome Treaty has set up the ICC to hear cases of genocide and crimes against humanity committed after July 1 this year.
''When joining the court, East Timor affirmed its commitment to human rights and universal justice,'' Miller said. ''Now, with the stroke of a pen, the East Timorese government has undermined these principles.''
The U.S. has refused to cooperate with the ICC on the grounds that its troops may face frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions and has been trying to persuade other countries to sign an Article 98 agreement.
It has used the U.N. peacekeeping mission in East Timor as a bargaining chip in its campaign to undermine the ICC.
In May, the U.N. Security Council rejected a U.S. proposal to exempt from ICC jurisdiction peacekeepers with the U.N. Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET), established after the independence of East Timor on May 20.
The U.S. voted for the establishment of the mission, but refused to replace three unarmed military observers assigned to UNMISET.
''The history of East Timor demonstrates why a single standard of justice and strong enforcement mechanisms are vital,'' Miller said.
29-08-2002 12:38:00 GMT. Notícia 4047704
East Timor: Rights group slams immunity grant to US troops
An American rights group working on behalf of the Timorese people has said that it is "deeply disturbed" by Dili`s recent decision to give US troops in the new nation immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) released a statement Wednesday saying it is "deeply disturbed and angered that the US government pressured East Timor to exempt US troops from the ICC".
Dili signed an agreement last week giving US troops protection from the ICC`s jurisdiction in Timor, if at a future date they are accused of committing war crimes.
The US is not party to the Treaty of Rome, which set up the ICC, as it fears its troops could be charged with war crimes after future peacekeeping missions or military operations.
"When joining the court (ICC), East Timor affirmed its commitment to human rights and universal justice. Now with the stroke of a pen, the East Timor government has undermined these principles", says ETAN.
The US is keen to establish agreements with individual nations on exemption from ICC jurisdiction and Timor is the third country to sign such a deal after Israel and Romania.
ETAN says that "the US has used its peacekeeping mission in Timor as a bargaining chip in its campaign to undermine the ICC". Earlier this year, the US refused to replace three unarmed military observers assigned to the UN`s mission in Timor.
"The history of East Timor demonstrates why a single standard of justice and strong enforcement mechanisms are vital. The ICC is designed to deter and prosecute war crimes", says ETAN.
The US-based group also points out that recent acquittals of Indonesian security officers charged with allowing civilian massacres in Timor in 1999 have brought renewed calls for real justice in Timor. A strong and uncompromised international tribunal is needed to achieve this, says ETAN.
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