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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: États-unis. Trump lance un mandat d’arrêt contre la CPI

by Bruno Odent

Trump Launches an Arrest Warrant against the International Criminal Court

Translated Wednesday 12 September 2018, by Henry Crapo

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Washington wants to paralyze the functioning of the International Criminal Court to prevent the trial of the U.S. government for war crimes against its own soldiers, or against those of its Israeli ally.

The world is threatened by a new type of offender: judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC). "Fortunately, Washington is watching them," said John Bolton, White House national security adviser, on Monday, September 10. He accused the Court of being "ineffective, irresponsible and downright dangerous", justifying an unprecedented attack by the Trump Administration against it. Some 123 countries have joined the international justice system since its inception in 2002. Except for the... United States. Successive administrations (Bush and Obama) had refused to do so for fear of complaints against their soldiers so widely deployed in various imperial interventions around the world. But they had so far refrained from attacking the very functioning of the Court. This has now been done with Trump, who is crossing a new threshold in his national-liberal offensive, summarized by the slogan "America first", which aims to reorganize the political and economic order of the world for the benefit of Uncle Sam.

Trump’s counsellor, John Bolton, threatens reprisals against any obstacle to United States’ supremacy.

Photo: Eric Thayer, Reuters

The barrage aimed at the judges targets two cases that the Court is likely to take up very soon: the prosecution of US military personnel in Afghanistan for war crimes and the prosecution of Israeli citizens for operations against Palestinian civilians in Gaza or the West Bank. "If the court attacks us, Israel, or other allies of the United States, we will not remain silent," John Bolton told the Federalist Society, an extremely reactionary assembly. And the adviser to Trump, an ultra neoconservative who studied at the feet of George W. Bush, puts forward a whole series of concrete retaliatory measures aimed at the judges themselves, or creating obstacles that would paralyse all their capacities for action. Bolton lists: the prohibition of "such judges and prosecutors from entering the United States", the implementation of sanctions by the American administration "against their assets in the financial system" of the United States, and, in the event that all this is not sufficient, to bring these potential criminals to justice: the initiation of "prosecutions against them in our judicial system". The conclusion is clear: the ICC must die. “For us”, Bolton brags, “she’s already dead”. 

A measure against the Palestine Liberation Organization

This death sentence against international justice once again reflects the White House’s solidarity with another government led by nationalist extremists, Benyamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel. It is announced at the same time as the decision to close the Palestinian representation mission in Washington, a punitive measure against Palestinians, explicitly justified by their efforts to bring Israeli leaders before the ICC. The number two of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Saëb Erekat, made no mistake about it. In an immediate, scathing reply, he said that the Palestinians would not bow to American threats, or hesitate in their efforts to "try Israeli war crimes". The attack by Washington is part of a series of unilateral measures against the PLO, ranging from the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, to the cancellation of assistance programmes, to the termination of funding for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

The Trump offensive against the ICC is fully consistent with a strategy that seeks to get rid of international institutions, or strictly to limit their role whenever they could hinder the domination of Uncle Sam or his vassals. Several American human rights NGOs denounce the dangers, for all citizens of the world, of such a headlong rush. The ACLU (American Union for the Defence of Civil Liberties) thus sees in "this unprecedented threat" to international justice a bad blow to the law, which can only "strengthen criminal and authoritarian regimes". At the worst possible moment, when, on the Burmese or Syrian side, and particularly in what remains of Daech’s era of influence, the need for international justice has never been felt so strongly.

Palestinians determined to obtain justice

Palestinians continue their efforts to bring Israeli leaders before the ICC. Saëb Erekat reported yesterday in Ramallah that he had handed over to the Court new elements of Israeli "war crimes" against the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank, pointing in particular to "forced population transfer" or "ethnic cleansing". The Palestinians have also asked the ICC to expedite the examination of other cases submitted in relation to the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip or in relation to colonisation. [1]

[1Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator. The translation provided by DeepL required only minor changes in punctuation, and the alteration of very few words.

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