Monday, March 13, 2006fear the International Court so much. Certainly has nothing to do with our numerous Geneva violations.
U.S. Blocks Military Aid to Mexico
By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer
11:08 AM PST, March 8, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Since last fall, the United States has halted military assistance to Mexico because of a dispute over whether U.S. citizens should be exempt from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
The sanctions were imposed in October after Mexico became a signatory to the Hague-based ICC, which was set up in 2002 to hunt down perpetrators of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
Mexico was the 12th country from the Latin America-Caribbean area to be sanctioned by the U.S. under a law approved by Congress four years ago.
In each case, the sanctions have been imposed without an official announcement. Jan Edmonson, spokeswoman for the State Department bureau of Western Hemisphere affairs, confirmed the sanctions against Mexico in response to an inquiry from The Associated Press.
The penalties involve the loss of $1.1 million budgeted for English language, counterterrorism and counter-narcotics training. Also affected was a $2.5 million program to provide counterterrorism equipment to the Mexican military.
ICC-related sanctions have cut the roster of trainees from the hemisphere by almost 800 over the past few years, eroding the traditionally deep military ties between the U.S. and Latin American militaries. Worldwide, about two dozen countries have been sanctioned.
Countries that wish to join the ICC and evade sanctions have the option of signing immunity agreements with the United States that shield Americans from ICC jurisdiction.
Mexico announced last month that it has no plans to enter into any such deal, known in government lexicon as an "Article 98" agreement.
Ruben Aguilar, President Vicente Fox's spokesman, said Mexico "will be irrefutable in supporting the protocols of the international court, whatever the cost. Nobody in the world should be immune from the action of justice." More than 100 countries have signed immunity agreements.
The Mexican government declined comment on the U.S. sanctions. Historically, Mexico has not been a recipient of U.S. assistance. The programs suspended last fall were relatively new.
The sanctions could create a political tempest in Mexico, which often views actions by its northern neighbor with suspicion.
President Bush could mitigate that by using his authority to waive the sanctions. His relations with Fox have been generally good, though Fox has been disappointed in the absence of progress toward a new migration agreement.
Bush plans to meet with Fox at the end of March, days after cabinet-level discussions between the two countries in Washington.
The 2002 U.S. law, known as the American Servicemembers Protection Act, gives Bush the authority to waive the sanctions if he deems it to be in the national interest.
Lawmakers approved the legislation out of concern that Americans overseas, including military personnel, diplomats and ordinary citizens, could be subject to politically motivated ICC prosecutions.
Defenders of the court insist that such concerns are greatly exaggerated because of safeguards written into the ICC statute.
Army Gen. Bantz Craddock, the commander of U.S. military forces in Latin America, said the United States is paying a price for the sanctions.
"We now risk losing contact and interoperability with a generation of military classmates in many nations of the region, including several leading countries," Craddock told Congress last year.
He will repeat his concerns next week during separate appearances before the House and Senate Armed Services committees.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jonathan S. Gration, the director of strategy, policy and assessments for U.S. European Command, said the sanctions are impairing the U.S. counterterrorism effort in East Africa.
"The restrictions we've put on our ability to move in Africa may be hurting the very people we are trying to help," he said.