US accused of delaying Burundi probe

Washington delayed a UN statement supporting an investigation into a massacre in Burundi out of disdain for the International Criminal Court, French diplomats have said.

    Over 160 Tutsis were massacred on 13 August 2004

    The Security Council statement, initially drafted by France

    in mid-November and now transformed into a resolution, is

    finally expected to come to a vote on Tuesday after the US agreed to a compromise.

       

    Based in The Hague in the Netherlands, the court is the

    first permanent world tribunal set up to prosecute individuals

    for war crimes, genocide and other gross human rights abuses.

       

    It came into being last year and 97 countries have ratified

    the 1998 statute creating the tribunal. Of the 25 European

    Union nations, only the Czech Republic has not submitted its

    ratification papers.

       

    Washington, which fears politically driven prosecutions of

    its officials serving overseas, calls the court "fatally

    flawed" and has been campaigning hard in recent weeks to

    prevent it from becoming a routine part of UN operations.

       

    Boycott campaign

     

    US diplomats campaigned unsuccessfully

    to have the tribunal taken off the agenda of the UN General

    Assembly and have fought to prevent the use of UN funds to

    support it, even trying to bar discussions of it in the world body's meeting rooms.

       

    French ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere complained about

    the US drive during a 15 November closed-door council meeting

    after the US blocked his draft statement on the

    investigation into the Burundi massacre, council diplomats said.

       

    Burundi's government has been trying for more than three

    months to fix blame for the 13 August slaughter of more than 160

    ethnic Tutsi Congolese in the Gatumba refugee camp.

       

    Washington argued the language of the French draft's offer

    of "international support as appropriate" was a hidden

    reference to the International Criminal Court and blocked its

    approval.

       

    In the compromise reached on Monday, the council linked the

    possibility of international support to a commitment by the

    Burundian government to quickly wrap up its investigation.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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