US soldiers exempt from war crime charges

War crimes committed by US occupation forces in Iraq will not be investigated by the International Criminal Court because both Saddam and George Bush refused to be bound by court's rules.

    The ICC is helpless even though it has been inundated with allegations of American war crimes carried out by troops in Iraq

    The tribunal's prosecutor

    Luis Moreno Ocampohas said on Wednesday the court does not have the mandate to prosecute such cases.

    "We have received communications about acts allegedly perpetrated by US troops in Iraq but we are not mandated to prosecute such acts since neither Iraq or the United States are states party to the court," Ocampohas said.

     

    The court can only act in cases involving nationals of states that have ratified the ICC statute, or events that occurred on their territories.

     

    Ocampo has said the court has also received complaints concerning nationals who are part of the US-led occupation force in Iraq, like Britain.

      

    But the court has to first determine if the national authorities concerned are unwilling or unable to investigate. Only then can the ICC step in, the prosecutor said.

     

    Strong opposition

     

    Washington has been a strong opponent of the ICC, fearing politically-motivated prosecution of its citizens and military personnel.

     

    It has suspended more than $47 million in military aid to 35 countries for their failure or refusal to give US citizens immunity from the tribunal.

     

    The ICC became a legal reality in July of last year - cases concerning events that occurred before this date cannot be heard by the tribunal.

     

    The court is mandated to try genocide, warcrimes and crimes against humanity.  

     

    US abuses

     

    US occupation forces in Iraq have come under criticism for their heavy-handed policies against the local population and members of the ousted Baath party.

     

    The international human rights group, Amnesty International has called on the US to ensure "humane treatment and access to justice for Iraqi detainees".

     

    Hundreds have been detained since the US began its invasion in Iraq last March and they have been denied access to lawyers.

     

    "The US as an occupying power must uphold international humanitarian law and human rights standards in dealing with issues of law and order in Iraq, in particular in the arrest, detention and interrogation of detainees," Amnesty said last month.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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