Exposing America’s double standards

0
218
BJN3JH The Hague; Exterior of International Criminal Court or ICC in the Netherlands

By Tafadzwa Masango

THIS is an excerpt from a statement issued by the US less than a month ago regarding the outcome of political and legal processes in relation to the elections in Zimbabwe:
“Violence and unlawful activity should not be part of the political process, and those responsible for such transgressions must be held accountable.
Human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression and association, must be respected and victims and witnesses of human rights violations and abuses deserve protection under the law.”
Going through the new conditions and amendments set under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZDERAA), one would think the US is a paragon of virtue.
As Africans, we have always had to play along to the demands and preset conditions of our so-called betters in the West.
Africa is said to be the ‘dark continent’.
In the media, Africa is often presented as a place of war, hunger and instability, which ‘obviously’ needs the whiteman to come and provide direction, order and development.
In her drive to ‘democratise’ Africa, the US speaks of rule of law.
She talks of human rights, freedom and urges that all who do not subscribe to these lofty notions be prosecuted and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
Her salesmen, the diplomatic corps, the democracy and advocacy groups, which, by the way, are a billion-dollar industries, all talk of the need for strong legal instruments and mechanisms that deter, investigate and prosecute those who fail to abide by these so-called standards that make one a part of the international community.
With this rich history, on paper, of civilising the savages, one expects the US to hold itself by even much higher standards when it comes to issues of democracy, human rights, justice and fundamental freedoms.
Unfortunately, it is all rhetoric and platitudes.
In 2013, presenting at a congressional briefing on the International Criminal Court (ICC) and human rights hosted by the American Bar Association and the Washington Working Group on the ICC Stephen Rapp, who then was serving as the US Ambassador-at-large for Global Criminal Justice highlighted the following:
l One of the key points was that long-standing political and philosophical traditions in the US have prevented it from joining the ICC.
The most important of these traditions, according to Rapp, is the belief by Americans that they can better help suffering people than the international community, and that their ability to help others without changing their national identity or culture will be threatened by joining an international institution that has its own laws and regulations which come from non-American societies.
l A certain degree of misinformation, such as the common but mistaken belief that the ICC is a part of the much-maligned UN, has prevented American policy makers from advancing the relationship between the US and the ICC.
l The US has been able to help the court in a limited manner, often by referring international human rights matters that come before the Security Council of the United Nations to the ICC.
It has also helped the court by sharing intelligence on fugitives and providing logistical support to the ICC on a case-by-case basis.
l There is also a concern from some American lawmakers that if as a country, the US joins the court, individuals from the global community will punish the US for its aggressive foreign policy by using the ICC to prosecute American soldiers and other military actors.
Rapp’s final point is the real key reason the US is not interested in ratifying to the ICC.
The US probably has the largest number of politicians and citizens who have directly and indirectly participated in the violation of human rights and war crimes across the globe.
As a side-note, this notion of the post of US Ambassador-at-large is quite interesting.
In September 2008, the Huffington Post carried an article titled ‘Ambassador for All Crimes Except Our Own’, which read: “The US actively encourages prosecution of foreign war criminals, but Washington does not allow the ICC to prosecute US nationals for war crimes.
The job of Clint Williamson, the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, reflects this double standard of the US, since Williamson only investigates war crimes in other countries like Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sri Lanka.”
Global Policy forum seconds Rapp’s final point and the observation by the Huffington Post in its research on US opposition to the ICC.
It writes: “The US Government has consistently opposed an international court that could hold US military and political leaders to a uniform global standard of justice. The Clinton administration participated actively in negotiations towards the ICC treaty, seeking Security Council screening of cases.
If adopted, this would have enabled the US to veto any dockets it opposed.
When other countries refused to agree to such an unequal standard of justice, the US campaigned to weaken and undermine the court.
The Bush administration, coming into office in 2001 as the court neared implementation, adopted an extremely active opposition.
Washington began to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries, insuring immunity of US nationals from prosecution by the court.
As leverage, Washington threatened termination of economic aid, withdrawal of military assistance and other painful measures.
The Obama administration has so far made greater efforts to engage with the court.
It is participating with the court’s governing bodies and it is providing support for the court’s ongoing prosecutions. Washington, however, has no intention
l To Page 14
l From Page 4
to join the ICC, due to its concern about possible charges against US nationals.”
In November 2017, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, lodged a request to open a formal investigation following a decade-long preliminary investigation into possible international crimes committed in Afghanistan since it became a member of the court in May 2003, as well as to related crimes in other member states since July 2002.
This request could possibly mark what could be the end of the ICC as we know it.
The ICC has long been accused of being the stick used to punish Africa and other smaller countries, while the big fish somehow never get caught in its nets.
This, in recent years, has seen some African countries threatening to pull out of the ICC.
The request showed the ICC was ready to cast its nets further as it certainly would investigate members of the US Central Intelligence Agency and the US armed forces for torture and other serious crimes committed in Afghanistan or in Eastern Europe in the so-called ‘war on terror’.
So when the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, comes out guns blazing against charging that the ICC:
l Is a threat to ‘American sovereignty and US national security’,
l Lacks checks and balances, and is claiming ‘jurisdiction over crimes that have disputed and ambiguous definitions’ and has failed to ‘deter and punish atrocity crimes’ and
l Is ‘superfluous’ as the US administration did ‘not recognise any higher authority than the US Constitution’, what comes to mind is what is good for the gander should certainly be good for the goose.
The US has been pushing and prodding countries to become signatories to the Rome Statute so that it would have a legitimate reason of reining in any leaders who stepped out of line and opposed any activity or actions that are deemed US national interests.
At times US representatives whispered in the ears of African leaders that ratifying the Rome Statute would unlock doors to financial aid and grants.
If there was any justice in this world, then it is about time the US had a taste of its own medicine.
One cannot assume the role of ‘world policeman’ and have no institution for oversight.
Unfortunately, the world is not in black and white.
The American Service-Members’ Protection Act is a law that aims “…to protect US military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the US Government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the US is not party.”
It authorises the US president to use “…all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the ICC.”
This authorisation has led the act to be nicknamed the ‘Hague Invasion Act’, because the freeing of US citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch Government.
American politicians, office bearers, military and security personnel committed numerous crimes in the wars against terror since 9/11.
The few times that such crimes have made it into the public domain, the establishment has characterised this as ‘a few bad apples’ in the barrel, but the truth of the matter is, if the US had nothing to hide, why would it be threatening the ICC with sanctions. join the ICC, due to its concern about possible charges against US nationals.”
In November 2017, the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, lodged a request to open a formal investigation following a decade-long preliminary investigation into possible international crimes committed in Afghanistan since it became a member of the court in May 2003, as well as to related crimes in other member states since July 2002.
This request could possibly mark what could be the end of the ICC as we know it.
The ICC has long been accused of being the stick used to punish Africa and other smaller countries, while the big fish somehow never get caught in its nets.
This, in recent years, has seen some African countries threatening to pull out of the ICC.
The request showed the ICC was ready to cast its nets further as it certainly would investigate members of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US armed forces for torture and other serious crimes committed in Afghanistan or in Eastern Europe in the so-called ‘war on terror’.
So when the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, comes out guns blazing against charging that the ICC;
l is a threat to ‘American sovereignty and US national security’,
l lacks checks and balances, and is claiming ‘jurisdiction over crimes that have disputed and ambiguous definitions’ and has failed to ‘deter and punish atrocity crimes’ and
l is ‘superfluous’ as the US administration did ‘not recognise any higher authority than the US Constitution’, what comes to mind is what is good for the gander should certainly be good for the goose.
The US has been pushing and prodding countries to become signatories to the Rome Statute so that it would have a legitimate reason of reining in any leaders who stepped out of line and opposed any activity or actions that are deemed US national interests.
At times US representatives whispered in the ears of African leaders that ratifying the Rome Statute would unlock doors to financial aid and grants.
If there was any justice in this world, then it is about time the US had a taste of its own medicine.
One cannot assume the role of ‘world policeman’ and have no institution for oversight.
Unfortunately, the world is not in black and white.
The American Service-Members’ Protection Act is a law that aims “…to protect US military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the US Government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the US is not party.”
It authorises the US president to use “…all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the ICC.”
This authorisation has led the act to be nicknamed the ‘Hague Invasion Act’, because the freeing of US citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch Government.
American politicians, office bearers, military and security personnel committed numerous crimes in the wars against terror since 9/11.
The few times that such crimes have made it into the public domain, the establishment has characterised this as ‘a few bad apples’ in the barrel, but the truth of the matter is, if the US had nothing to hide, why would it be threatening the ICC with sanctions.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here