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Jordan: Parliament Should Reject U.S. Impunity Deal

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  • carlmarx74
    For Immediate Release Jordan: Parliament Should Reject U.S. Impunity Deal No Exemptions from International Justice for the Gravest Crimes (London, December 7,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2005
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      For Immediate Release

      Jordan: Parliament Should Reject U.S. Impunity Deal
      No Exemptions from International Justice for the Gravest Crimes

      (London, December 7, 2005) – Jordan's parliament should reject an
      agreement that would shield U.S. citizens and personnel under Jordan
      jurisdiction from ICC prosecution for war crimes, crimes against
      humanity or genocide, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International
      said today.

      This bilateral agreement with the United States would require Jordan
      to refuse to surrender to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
      persons accused of such crimes when they are U.S. nationals and non-
      nationals working for the U.S. government. Instead, Jordan would be
      required to surrender them to the custody of the U.S. government, in
      violation of Jordan's obligations to the ICC.

      Deputies in the lower house of Jordan's Parliament should maintain
      their refusal to pass this bilateral agreement, and senators in the
      upper house should reverse their previous approval of the agreement,
      Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said.

      "Jordan's parliament should firmly reject this strong-arm attempt by
      the United States to exempt its own citizens from international law,"
      said Richard Dicker, International Justice Director at Human Rights
      Watch. "No one should enjoy impunity for genocide, crimes against
      humanity or war crimes regardless of their nationality", said Amnesty
      International.

      Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International join with local groups
      such as the Adaleh Center for Human Rights Studies in urging Jordan's
      lower and upper houses of parliament to reject this agreement.

      The U.S. government has pressured Jordan to enter a bilateral
      agreement since August 2003, when the Congress passed the American
      Service Members' Protection Act and the administration began its
      worldwide campaign to place U.S. nationals and personnel beyond the
      reach of international justice. After having resisted intense U.S.
      diplomatic pressure for more than 18 months, King Abdullah of Jordan
      signed the agreement during a visit to Washington last December.

      For the agreement to enter into force, it must be ratified by
      Jordan's parliament. On July 14, the lower house rejected it by an
      overwhelming majority, concluding that it is contrary to Jordan's
      obligations under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
      Court (Rome Statute). Regrettably, the upper house decided to approve
      it shortly afterwards. Because of these diverging votes, the matter
      has returned to the lower house, which must decide whether or not to
      ratify the agreement.

      The agreement between Jordan and the United States violates Jordan's
      legal obligations under the Rome Statute and under other
      international law. Under the Rome Statute, Jordan has to comply with
      requests to arrest and surrender persons to the ICC (Article 89 (1)).
      By agreeing to surrender individuals requested by the ICC to another
      state, especially a country that has repudiated the Rome Statute,
      Jordan would violate its international obligations under that treaty.

      Under other international law, Jordan also has the duty to ensure
      that those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and
      grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions are brought to justice. If
      the bilateral agreement were ratified, however, Jordan has no
      guarantees that the U.S. will investigate these crimes, or, if there
      is sufficient admissible evidence, to prosecute them or require those
      responsible to provide reparations to victims and their families.

      Indeed, many of the crimes, such as crimes against humanity other
      than torture, listed in the Rome Statute are not defined or defined
      correctly as crimes under U.S. law or would not fall under the
      jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Therefore, surrendering persons sought
      by the ICC to the United States instead of to the Court might
      effectively provide them impunity from prosecution. Moreover, this
      agreement would prohibit Jordanian courts from prosecuting U.S.
      nationals or non-nationals working for the U.S. government accused of
      committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide on
      Jordanian territory.

      Finally, agreements such as this one create a two-tier system of
      justice, placing a certain category of persons above international
      law by sole virtue of their affiliation with a powerful country, in
      this case the United States. No one, regardless of their nationality,
      should enjoy impunity for the worst crimes known to humanity.

      Jordan should reject attempts by the U.S. government to force it to
      ratify the agreement by making their military and economic aid
      contingent on ratification. U.S. law requires the suspension of
      military and economic aid to states parties to the ICC treaty if they
      refuse to enter into agreements, unless the President waives this
      requirement. On July 21, after the United States awarded US $333.6
      million in aid to Jordan for the coming year, U.S. President George
      W. Bush used his executive powers to grant Jordan a six-month waiver
      from the law for the purpose of giving Jordan time to ratify the
      agreement.

      "By rejecting this agreement, Jordan would give support to other
      countries that are likewise resisting U.S. pressure to violate their
      obligations under the Rome Statute," said Amnesty International and
      Human Rights Watch.


      Background:

      Currently, 99 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. Jordan was
      the first country in the Middle East to ratify it on April 11, 2002,
      and has been a strong supporter of the ICC since its creation. Queen
      Rania of Jordan, who strongly supported her country's ratification of
      the ICC treaty, was elected to the Board of the Court's Victim's
      Trust Fund in 2003. Prince Zaid bin Ra'd of Jordan currently serves
      as the President of the Assembly of States Parties, an important
      oversight body of the court.

      Over the past two years, the U.S. administration has pressured states
      worldwide, including its closest allies, to enter into bilateral
      agreements, to compel them not to surrender U.S. nationals and
      persons working for the U.S. government to the ICC. Indeed, the
      United States has threatened to suspend both military and economic
      assistance for states parties to the ICC that refuse to enter into
      such agreements.

      However, despite strong U.S. pressure, at least 50 countries in the
      world have stood firm and refused to violate their obligations under
      the Rome Statute or under other international law. The 25 member
      states of the European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador,
      Japan, Mali, Mexico, New Zealand, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, South
      Africa, St. Lucia, Switzerland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago and
      Venezuela, for example, have all refused to enter into agreements.
      The lower house of Bolivia's Congress has refused to ratify the
      agreement signed by the government, and Nigeria's Senate has passed a
      resolution questioning the legality of the Nigerian president's
      executive agreement.

      Although the U.S. government claims that more than 100 states have
      signed agreements, very few of these agreements have been ratified.
      Indeed, parliaments in only 20 states have approved ratification of
      such agreements.

      The U.S. government has claimed that such agreements are permitted
      under Article 98 of the Rome Statute. However, that article was
      designed for the limited purpose of permitting states parties to the
      Rome Statute to honour existing Status of Forces Agreements, which
      allocate jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute crimes committed
      by members of armed forces of one country who are stationed in
      another. It was not designed to permit states, whether or not they
      are party to the ICC, to exempt military or non-military personnel
      from any investigation or prosecution for crimes under international
      law.

      For more information, see, for example, Amnesty International's two
      legal memoranda, The International Criminal Court: U.S. efforts to
      obtain impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,
      AI Index: IOR 40/025/2002, 2 September 2002, and The International
      Criminal Court: The need for the European Union to take more
      effective steps to prevent members from signing impunity agreements,
      AI Index: IOR 40/030/2002, 1 October 2002. European Union Council
      Conclusions on the International Criminal Court (30/09/02) (available
      at: http://ue.eu.int/uedocs/cmsUpload/ICC34EN.pdf), and Human Rights
      Watch's briefing paper: United States Efforts to Undermine the
      International Criminal Court- Legal Analysis of Impunity Agreements
      (available at: http://hrw.org/campaigns/icc/docs/art98analysis.htm).


      For more information, please contact:
      In New York, Christoph Wilcke (Human Rights Watch): +1-212-216-1295
      (English, Arabic)
      In New York, Richard Dicker (Human Rights Watch): +1-212-216-1248
      (English)
      In London, Amnesty International Press Office: +44-20-7413-5566
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