U.S. law assailed as risk to terror
Freezes aid to some nations [over
by Letta Tayler - Latin America
http://www.newsday.com/ - December
Global efforts to combat terrorism and
drug trafficking will be curtailed under a new U.S. law that suspends
foreign aid to nations that won't back Washington's stance on
an international court, legal and human rights groups said yesterday.
Under a provision in a sweeping spending
law signed Wednesday by President George W. Bush, Washington will
freeze aid to nations that don't sign pacts with Washington exempting
U.S. nationals from prosecution before the International Criminal
Court in the Netherlands.
Between eight and 50 nations will be disqualified
from receiving money under the U.S. government's Economic Support
Fund, which helps U.S. allies promote democracy and combat terrorism,
drug trafficking and internal conflicts.
Court supporters slammed the new measure
as a bullying tactic that would curtail programs that help Washington's
interests while alienating valuable allies. Human Rights Watch
also called U.S. opposition to the court hypocritical in light
of reported U.S. abuse of detainees in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.
"This latest sanction shows that
the president would rather allow drug trafficking and terrorism
than support the prosecution of war crimes and atrocities,"
said Brian Thompson of Citizens for Global Solutions in Washington.
The International Criminal Court, which
opened two years ago and boasts 100 member nations, is the first
permanent world tribunal to judge genocide, war crimes and crimes
against humanity. Bush opposes the court on grounds that U.S.
citizens could be subjected to politically motivated charges.
Supporters including the European Union counter that the tribunal
has numerous safeguards against frivolous prosecution.
Officials from Peru and Trinidad and Tobago,
two countries targeted for aid freezes, said their governments
would continue refusing to sign agreements shielding U.S. nationals
from the court but declined to comment immediately on the cuts.
The measure would withhold $250 million
for economic and social development in Jordan, but Bush can waive
the freeze for that key U.S. ally.
Ecuador, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela
stand to lose $32.5 million for promoting democracy and free trade,
and fighting drug trafficking and corruption. Caribbean nations
could lose all or some of $9 million for fighting the flow of
illegal drugs and undocumented immigrants - including potential
terrorists - to the United States.
Legal experts fear Ireland could lose
$12 million for a visa program and Northern Ireland peace initiatives.
The Bush page
International Criminal Court page