The European Union (EU) agreed yesterday to allow its 15 member nations to form bilateral immunity agreements with the United States to exempt US military personnel from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Over the last several months, the US has adamantly called for immunity of all US nationals from prosecution by the court. Under the EU policy, only US military and official personnel are exempt from the ICC. In addition, they must be tried in US courts.
This policy will now pave the way for possible agreements with allied countries such as Britain, Italy, and Spain. However German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer appeared resistant, saying: “What matters is that the Europeans stand together on the basis of a strengthening of the court’s statute. What matters to us is not to assuage anyone,” according to Reuters.
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, 81 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.
Media Resources: NY Times 9/30/02; Human Rights Watch 9/30/02; Reuters 9/30/02; USAforICC.org 10/1/02; ICCnow.org 10/1/02
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. . . .