Truth about ICC

Published 2:10 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To the Editor:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been the subject of letters to you by Mr. Wayne Bilbrey and me.
In his latest letter of Dec. 8, Mr. Bilbrey remains concerned that the court will try any American military personnel, that it does not have adequate rights in trials for defendants and by the possibility that Americans convicted by the Court will be imprisoned far from the United States.
Judging by your news articles, quite a few Tryonites remember World War II.
They will therefore probably recall the Nuremberg Tribunal convened after the war’s end to try leading Nazi war criminals. The Nuremberg tribunal tried only the topmost Nazi leaders still alive like Goring and Himmler. Its charter required it not to try Nazis and military people below that level.
The same is true of the international atrocity crimes tribunals which followed it like those established by the United Nations at the urging of the United States for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, and now the ICC.
The idea behind this restriction is that of all the thousands or millions of people involved in a program of mass atrocities, it is most important to use a court’s limited resources to punish the leaders who decided on, planned and gave the first orders for those atrocities.
So, the Court is required not to try American military personnel at any except the very highest ranks. Furthermore the Court’s charter requires the Court to turn over Americans it was intending to try to the United States if it so requests.
On defendant’s rights, the Court’s charter, known as the Rome Statute, gives defendants all the rights in our Bill of Rights except jury trial.
Since Mr. Bilbrey is concerned about this, I note that the United States regularly extradites Americans to countries that do not have jury trials.
On the location of prisons serving the Court, it is true that in the enormously unlikely event that the ICC convicted an American now, he or she would start to serve at some distance from the US, probably in Holland.
However, should that happen, the United States should persuade Canada, a party to the Rome Statute, to accept the American convict in one of its prisons.
If readers would like to know more about the Court, they should feel free to e-mail or visit
— John Washburn

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