Colombia and the United States signed an accord that exempts Americans from prosecution before the ICC

Colombia and the United States signed an accord that exempts Americans in the South American nation from prosecution before the new UN international war crimes court, the president's office here said.

Wednesday's agreement frees up military aid suspended in early July after Colombia failed to provide adequate guarantees that U.S. officials would not be handed over to the Brussels-based court.

The United States has given Colombia nearly $2.5-billion (U.S.) in the last three years to battle drug trafficking and a leftist rebel insurgency. About $5-million of the $600-million promised to Colombia this year was suspended.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's office said the accord was made possible because of provisions in an old bilateral deal that was used as a shield to safeguard U.S. officials in Colombia.

The Colombian government had expressed concern that failure to reach such an accord with Washington could put aid slated for 2004 at stake. Of the $575-million requested for Colombia, about $112-million could have been jeopardized.

The State Department stopped $48-million in aid to 35 countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and Central and South America after they failed to meet a July 1 deadline to exempt American troops and other personnel from prosecution before the new court.

The United States fears the court could leave American soldiers subject to false and politically motivated prosecutions. Ninety-two countries have ratified the treaty establishing the court.

[Source: The Associated Press, 18Sep03]

DDHH en Colombia

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