Council of Europe appeals for Obama to reverse US position and support ICJ

29 January 2009

Council of Europe appeals for Obama to reverse US position and support ICJ

On Monday the International Court of Justice (ICJ) began its first trial, and this should be the occasion for the United States to halt its sabotage of this vital element of the international legal system. This was the call issued from Strasbourg by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), where PACE member, SP Senator and United European Left political group chair Tiny Kox expressed the hope that the new American President Barack Obama would follow up his announcement that the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay would be closed and torture renounced by declaring a willingness to cooperate with the ICJ.

The Court offers the possibility of putting an end to a situation in which people, wherever they may be in the world, can get away with horrifying crimes such as genocide. In the last few years, however, US President Bush has done everything he could to sabotage the work of the ICJ. The US Congress even went so far as to pass a law which makes it possible to use violent means to free arrested American citizens held in prisons in The Hague, where the Court has its seat.

Together with, amongst others, Dutch Christian Democrat MP Pieter Omtzigt, Senator Kox argued successfully for an explicit appeal to the US to repeal this law and begin to cooperate with the Court.

Kox also asked that the ICJ launch an immediate enquiry into whether, during the recent military attack by Israel on Gaza, crimes had been committed which might fall under the jurisdiction of the Court. If Israel was unwilling to prosecute perpetrators, the Court should be able to do so.

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