Helms Attempts to Stop Ratification of International Criminal Court
In July 1998, 120 countries, excluding the United States, voted to adopt the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC). Article 7 of the Rome Statute presents clear language defining gender crimes including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity, and crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Under Article 7, the Taliban’s brutal gender apartheid rule, if still in existence once the court is established, would qualify as crimes against humanity and, therefore eligible to be tried before the ICC.
Currently, 139 countries have signed the Rome Statute and 30 countries have ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The U.S. may join the ICC with the signature of the President of the U.S. on the Rome Treaty and with ratification of the Treaty by 2/3 of the Senate. On December 31, 2000, former President Clinton signed the Rome Statue.
Senator Jesse Helms, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made defeating the ratification efforts for the Rome Treaty his top priority, and on May 9, 2001, Helms introduced the American Servicemembers' Protection Act, which:
· prohibits the U.S. government, state and local governments, including courts, to assist, cooperate, support the ICC or respond to requests for cooperation from the ICC to help prosecute war criminals;
· severely restricts the transfer of information to the ICC to help prosecute war criminals;
· penalizes any country that is a party to the ICC by providing no U.S. military assistance; and
· limits U.S. participation in peacekeeping missions or any military operation to maintain or restore international peace and security.
On May 10, 2001, by a vote of 282-137, the American Servicemembers’ Protection Act (ASPA) passed in the House; next week the Senate will vote on the measure.
The American Servicemembers’ Protection Act sends the wrong message to those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity that the U.S., the world’s superpower, opposes a court for international justice.