Bush Threatens NATO in Latest Attempt To Undermine ICC
In President Bush’s latest attempt to strong arm US allies into supporting demands for American immunity from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the administration is threatening to use the US role in NATO against the European Union should they refuse to exempt American personnel from the newly created court, the New York Times reported today. The foreign ministers of the European Union are scheduled to meet this week to discuss whether the US should be granted immunity in the ICC – an international venue launched in July to protect victims of genocide and other war crimes.
In letters dated August 16, Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote to individual European nations urging them to hold off on a united European Union decision and instead sign individual agreements with the US promising that they will not press charges against American peacekeepers and other personnel through the ICC. Meanwhile, Pierre-Richard Prosper, the American ambassador for war crimes issues, said in an interview with the Danish news media last week that if the European Union decides against US ICC immunity, the status quo between the United States and NATO "will obviously not exist, and we will have to see how we can work through all this," according to the Times. The State Department, however, has denied any connection between NATO and ICC immunity.
The Bush administration has strongly opposed the ICC, claiming that it could subject US personnel to politically motivated prosecutions abroad. The ICC has widespread support in the US from groups such as the Feminist Majority because it identifies gender crimes and the crime of apartheid as crimes against humanity. Article 7 of the Rome Statute, which created the court, presents clear language that defines gender crimes as rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity.
So far, 74 countries have ratified the Rome Treaty – on December 31, 2000 former President Bill Clinton added the US signature, which President Bush then renounced in May. However, in light of severe criticism from some of its closest European allies, the Bush administration agreed to drop its demand for US immunity and instead opt for a compromise with the United Nations Security Council for a one-year exemption from prosecution. In the meantime, the administration has set out on a campaign to convince individual nations to grant US immunity before the one-year exemption runs out. So far, Israel and Romania have signed such agreements while Switzerland has refused to do so.
Media Resources: New York Times 8/26/02; Feminist Daily News 8/12/02
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .