[A-List] Fw: [NLGInternational] NCBL urges ICC Prosecution
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Sun Mar 28 10:23:46 MST 2004
----- Original Message -----
From: Mark Fancher
To: nlginternational at yahoogroups.com
Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2004 5:37 PM
Subject: [NLGInternational] NCBL urges ICC Prosecution
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF BLACK LAWYERS REQUESTS THAT BUSH ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS BE INVESTIGATED FOR WAR CRIMES IN THE KIDNAPPING OF HAITIAN PRESIDENT
The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) has requested that the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court investigate whether charges may be brought against Bush Administration officials for war crimes in the kidnapping of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the President of Haiti.
Although the U.S. is not subject to the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction, and the Bush Administration demonstrated its utter contempt for the rule of law by retracting initial U.S. approval of the court, NCBL has pointed out to the prosecutor that the Central African Republic, where Aristide was detained against his will, is subject to the court’s jurisdiction, and there should be a determination of whether that fact gives the court the right to hold U.S. officials accountable for recent events in Haiti.
The full text of NCBL’s letter to the prosecutor follows. NCBL is also making preparations to approach the Organization of American States and other international authorities.
March 27, 2004
Office of the Prosecutor
c/o International Criminal Court
2516 AB The Hague
Re: Crimes against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the People of Haiti
Dear Mr. Moreno-Ocampo:
The National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) is a U.S.-based international organization of progressive lawyers and legal workers from Africa and the African Diaspora that was founded in 1968. One of the key purposes of NCBL is the support and defense of the right of self-determination for Africa and African nations and communities in the Diaspora. NCBL regards Haiti as an exemplar of the struggle for self-determination and independence. This year, the country celebrates its second centennial of having liberated itself from French colonialism.
NCBL is outraged by the fact that Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the democratically-elected President of Haiti, was forced, under threat of immediate death, by the United States Armed Forces to leave his home and his country on or about February 29, 2004. According to reports, President Aristide and his wife, Mildred Aristide, were forced onto a U.S. military plane and held therein against their will for a period of more than 20 hours. They were then taken by force and against their will to the Central African Republic, where they were denied opportunities to have contact with the outside world while being detained under conditions amounting to house arrest. Although the U.S. government disputes this version of the events in question, NCBL believes that U.S. accounts of this occurrence must be rejected in their entirety because of credible Haitian eyewitnesses, and the U.S. government’s record of blatant lies to the world about its foreign policy and practices in Iraq and other places.
NCBL most respectfully requests that your office determine whether the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over all or part of these occurrences, and that you otherwise initiate an investigation into whether there have been criminal violations that warrant prosecution. Should you decide to inquire into this matter, NCBL suggests the following areas for review:
1. In considering the threshold question of whether the ICC has jurisdiction over the persons involved, we note that Article 12(2) of The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ("Rome Statute") provides that if the conduct in question occurs on the territory of a State that is a party to the statute, then the ICC may exercise jurisdiction. Although neither the United States nor Haiti are parties to the Rome Statute, the Central African Republic is a party and the site of President Aristide’s detention. We believe the Office of the Prosecutor should determine whether jurisdiction is appropriate given that fact.
2. Whether the crimes at issue are appropriately addressed by the ICC involves consideration of Article 5 of the Rome Statute, which provides that the ICC has jurisdiction with respect to the crimes of: genocide; crimes against humanity; war crimes; and the crime of aggression. While we believe that all of these crimes were committed, we urge that you give special consideration to the issue of war crimes. We believe that the most relevant provision of the Rome Statute is Article 8(2)(a)(vii). It provides: "For the purpose of this Statute, ‘war crimes’ means: Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, namely, any of the following acts against persons or property protected under the provisions of the relevant Geneva Convention: *** [u]nlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement." NCBL has concluded that the U.S. government (in violation of key provisions of the United Nations Charter that proscribe aggression and affirm the right to self-determination) is effectively engaged in warfare against the government and people of Haiti, both through direct use of U.S. military personnel, and by way of armed proxies who have engaged in acts of terrorism against the civilian population, and who have staged a coup d’etat. Furthermore, we believe that as "nominal head of [the Haitian] armed forces" with the power to declare war, President Aristide should be protected by the Geneva Convention. We urge that the Office of the Prosecutor investigate whether the unlawful transfer of President Aristide to the Central African Republic, and his unlawful confinement in that country constitute crimes subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC. Per Article 8(1), President Aristide’s detention was committed as part of a plan to eliminate him and the many members of his government and political party in Haiti by detention or willful killing.
We most respectfully thank you for your attention to this matter, and we invite you to call upon us if at any time you believe our services will be helpful to your efforts.
Mark P. Fancher, Chair
Section on International Affairs & World Peace
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