Wednesday 16 April 2003

War crimes case planned against U.S.

Please let me reiterate my enthusiastic willingness to volunteer for firing squad duty should the ICC so determine.

Washington says groups' bid proves ICC a political tool

A coalition of lawyers and human rights groups yesterday unveiled a bid to use the UN's new International Criminal Court as a tool to restrain American military power.

In a move Washington said vindicated U.S. claims that the court would be used for political purposes, the rights activists are working to compile war crimes cases against the United States and its chief ally in Iraq, Britain.

"There is a way that the United States can be accused ... of aiding and abetting war crimes," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The U.S. last year renounced the ICC, predicting it would become a political tool for opponents of U.S. foreign policy to launch frivolous prosecutions against U.S. military and diplomatic personnel.

"It appears they are trying to manufacture a case against the United States," said a senior official with the Bush administration. "So this clearly would be an example of the type of politicization that we're concerned with."

As a non-member, the United States would normally be outside of ICC jurisdiction unless it was suspected of crimes in a country that is an ICC member, which Iraq is not.

But the fact that Britain is a member has given the rights activists a springboard for a case that argues U.S. air raids that killed civilians were war crimes.

"The U.S. used bombers that took off from England ... and from Diego Garcia, also U.K. territory," said Mr. Ratner, referring to a British Indian Ocean island possession.

Britain, as an ICC member, could be prosecuted on a much wider array of activities that resulted in civilian deaths, the activists said.

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