- US officials have disclosed that five government, including those of Seychelles, Egypt and Tunisia, have signed so-called "impunity agreements" with the United States. The agreements exempt US personnel from war crimes prosecution in the International Criminal Court.
According to a State Department document released yesterday, the government of Egypt, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Seychelles and Tunisia secretly have signed what is known as "Article 98 Agreements" with the US government during the last months.
According to the news agency Reuters, the deal with Egypt had already been signed on 5 March, while the date of signatures with the other four countries was unknown. None of the governments concerned had wished to comment on their agreements with the US.
The Article 98 Agreements are also known as "impunity agreements" because the US is demanding that any person accused of war crimes or crimes against humanity be returned to the USA, without any commitment that they will be prosecuted by US courts and without any recourse if US courts fail to fulfil their responsibilities.
The human rights group Amnesty International strongly has protested the signing of these "illegal impunity agreements" because they violate governments' duties to cooperate with the International Criminal Court and the obligations of all states "to ensure that the people responsible for these crimes, as the most serious crimes under international law, are brought to justice."
The US initiative is part of "a worldwide campaign to undermine the International Criminal Court and ensure impunity for US nationals," Amnesty says. By now, 43 states are known to have signed these "impunity agreements" and parliaments in four states have approved ratification of the agreements.
- In fact, in many cases US courts will not be able to do so as US law does not include many of the crimes under international law as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, according to Amnesty.
Other African countries which have signed similar agreements with the US include Congo Kinshasa (DRC), Djibouti, Madagascar, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Togo is also said to recently have signed an "impunity agreement" with the US, but this has not yet been confirmed.
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