Swiss Reject US Bid for Non-extradition of Citizens to ICC.

Switzerland has refused to sign an immunity pact for US citizens from extradition to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Swiss Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The move by Bern follows in the footsteps of the 15-nation European Union's policy. The United States is vehemently opposed to the court, which it fears will be turned into a political instrument to make malicious war crimes accusations against its soldiers abroad, particularly in UN peacekeeping operations.

Washington last week asked Switzerland to sign an accord to ensure that US servicemen are not hauled in front of the ICC, justifying its request by an article in the treaty establishing the court, dealing with the judicial handling of servicemen stationed abroad.

Switzerland does not host any US soldiers, and "the Foreign Ministry does not see the necessity of concluding such an accord", spokesman Livio Zanolari said.

Too many exceptions to the rules risk weakening the ICC, he said, stressing that Switzerland favours the universal application of the court.

Washington has already concluded similar accords with Romania and Israel.

Following the pact with Romania, the European Commission called on candidate countries for EU membership to not sign accords with the US on the non-extradition of US nationals to the ICC.

The court, the first permanent international tribunal, will hear allegations of genocide and war crimes and was established in the Hague on July 1. Washington has refused to adhere to the treaty setting it up.

Source: Agence France Presse - 13Aug02

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This document has been published on 23Sep02 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights