Sunday, January 08, 2006

Parliament ratifies war criminal agreement with the US

The Jordanian parliament today ratified a bilateral agreement between Jordan and the US which exempts US citizens from extradition and trial under the auspices of the International Criminal Court.

Parliament had previously rejected this agreement, saying that it circumvented Jordan's obligations under the Rome statute, which established the court. Amnesty International agreed, but the Senate disagreed and approved the treaty, sending it back to the house. Last week the legal committee of the house recommended ratification of the treaty. Thanks to Khader for the links.

I am somewhat ambivalent about all of this. I certainly agree that US attempts to exempt itself from international law are hypocritical and unfair. On the other hand, fairness has little to with anything, I'm afraid. It certainly isn't Jordan's job to ensure fairness in this world. We don't have the resources or the power, let alone the backing needed to fight this fight.

The issue is largely a symbolic one. In reality, we most probably will never have to deal with a situation where we will need to decide where to extradite a US war criminal to. Even if we did, it doesn't really make a difference to us where we send him (or her). We either pop the individual on a flight to Washington or on a flight to The Hague. So what?

Thus, to me the issue boils down to pros and cons. On the pro's side, we are no longer threatened with the cut of US aid. Personally, I don't think that this is a credible threat, since they are already getting their money's worth as it is now. We are already selling ourselves short as it is. On the con's side, we made Amnisty International unhappy. How much do they pay us, anyway? Bigger on con's side, we missed a chance to put our finger in Bush's eye. That would have been worth something.


At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More on the cons:
We have belittled our signature and ratification of the Rome Statue: we are the only Arab country to do so, we could have set a good example, we have started to implement it into our local legislation, but now we sign a third party agreement that disagrees with the statute in everyway. I would say thats a bit of a double standard. Many countries have refused to ratify these bilateral agreements despite threats of aids cuts. we could have found a work around, after all the US also needs us in the region....i dont know, its just another case of sacrificing principles. we should not have stood up only for the sake of Amnesty and the many other NGOs that are against signing this treaty, we should have done it for ourselves. How can we justify standing by the ICC to bring justice to the world if we say: " ok all the war criminals except the americans" .... it doesnt work that way...basically we are following the trend and the execuses the americans give us when they say " we dont torture" etc.etc.etc....

At 4:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the lower house rejected the treaty in October, this made the USA furious. The parilament was still stretching its muscles against the Badran government, but the reaction from the USA was that if the treaty is not signed the US financial support to Jordan will deteriorate. The Lower house then accused the government of trapping the parilament into this decision to humilate it infront of the King. The parilamentarians promised to ratify the treaty as soon as it is back to them, and how well they kept their word!

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally think Jordan should have cut the road short on this by denying any person who has criminal charges pending against them in the ICC entry to its land.

At 5:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Human Rights Watch was in Jordan to lobby parliamentarians against signing this treaty, but without success.

The issue is not whether to extradite a suspected war criminal to the US or to the Hague. The ICC as an institution of last instance would have no objections to such a procedure. However, the US is under no obligation to prosecute a suspected war criminal, and, as the year 2005 had amply shown, does not have the political will to prosecute people higher up in teh chain of command who order torture, for example.

The wider point, of course, is that such an agreement starts the road of 'if the US can get away with it, surely I can'.

Jordan certainly sold itself short on this issue.



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