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So-Called "American Servicemembers' Protection Act" Receives Senate Approval

by Coalition for the International Criminal Cour Friday, Dec. 14, 2001 at 4:01 AM

Support for Anti-ICC Legislation Flies in Face of International Cooperation Against Terrorism. The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly supported Senator Jesse Helms' proposed American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA) as an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act, providing the legal framework for U.S. opposition to the future International Criminal Court (ICC).

Coalition for the International Criminal Court

PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Distribution American Servicemembers' Protection Act Receives Senate Approval

Support for Anti-ICC Legislation Flies in Face of International Cooperation Against Terrorism

(New York, December 11, 2001) - The United States Senate overwhelmingly supported the addition of Senator Jesse Helms' proposed American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA) as an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act last Friday, December 7, providing the legal framework to support U.S. opposition to the future International Criminal Court (ICC). Upon entering into force, the ICC will become the first international judicial institution capable of trying individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and has support from all major U.S. allies as well as countries from every region of the world.

"We currently have 47 of the 60 ratifications necessary for the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the Court, to enter into force, and several more countries have only to deposit their ratifications at the United Nations," said William Pace, Convenor of the more than 1000-member Coalition for the ICC. "It is now very clear that the treaty will enter into force in 2002."

Key provisions of the ASPA include the prohibition of U.S. cooperation with the future ICC and authorization of the President to use "all means necessary and appropriate" to release U.S. or Allied personnel from detention by the Court, which will be headquartered in the Hague, Netherlands. The latter provision has led European media to refer to the ASPA as the "Hague Invasion Act." European leaders have clearly expressed their strong disapproval of previous efforts to pass this legislation and it is expected that they will do so again.

"It's ironic that the U.S. Senate today stands poised to undermine a Court that could deal with future terrorist acts, such as those of September 11th," said Heather Hamilton, Coordinator of the Washington Working Group on the ICC. "Moreover, it's shocking that the Senate has authorized the use of force against the very allies who have joined the U.S. in the international campaign against terrorism."

There is still an opportunity for the amendment to be removed when the House and Senate meet in conference committee to reconcile their respective versions of the Defense Appropriations Act. If the amendment is not removed, the Senate version of the bill passed Friday would still provide the President with the power to waive all provisions of the ASPA.

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About the Coalition for the International Criminal Court:

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) is a network of over 1,000 civil society organizations that support the creation of a permanent, fair and independent International Criminal Court. Established in 1995, the CICC is the leading source of information regarding the ICC and the regional organizations that support its formation. For more information about the mission of the CICC and its member organizations, please visit

http://www.iccnow.org

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