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March 1, 2011: Libya

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Ocampo Brags, But ICC Tainted by French Vote Swap & US Loophole for Qatar

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 3 -- The UN Security Council's referral of the situation in Libya under Gaddafi to the International Criminal Court was the subject of Council debate Wednesday afternoon.

  The ICC's outgoing prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo speechified, then France and the US among others gave speeches about their commitment to the ICC and accountability, respectively.

   But as was recently exclusive reported by Inner City Press, France offered to support an unqualified judge for the ICC in exchange for support for its current candidate Bruno Cathala -- click here for that story.

  Ocampo bragged that people associated with Saif al Islam Gaddafi contacted the ICC asking hypothetical questions about surrendering. Afterward a reporter from AFP, 41% funded by the French government, asked where exactly Saif Gaddafi is. One imagines French jets awaiting the answer that, not surprisingly, never came.

   Now the US' pushing in February for an exemption to the Libya ICC referral has been shown as more substantial than argued at the time by US Ambassador Susan Rice, by non ICC member Qatar's bragging that it had hundreds of "boots on the ground" in Libya during the conflict.

 While publicly calling for an end to impunity, the US at a Security Council experts' meeting on the morning of February 26, 2011 demanded the following paragraph:

6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State.

  When the resolution was adopted later that day -- after Security Council ambassadors quietly attended a Chinese circus before the 8 pm vote -- Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud about the paragraph.

  Araud said, “that was for one country, it was absolutely necessary for one country to have that considering its parliamentary constraints, and this country we are in. It was a red line for the United States. It was a deal-breaker, and that's the reason we accepted this text to have the unanimity of the Council.”

 On March 1 outside the UN General Assembly, Inner City Press managed to ask US Ambassador Susan Rice:

Inner City Press: Can I ask you a question about the Security Council resolution? (inaudible) On the Security Council resolution that passed Saturday, some have now raised a question about the US asking for that paragraph six, which exempts Americans, and, I guess, others, anyone that's not an ICC member, from referral and prosecution by the ICC. They say it undercuts international law-Brazil said it, now the head of the Rome Statute grouping of member states said it. Why did the US ask for that? And don't you see a downside to saying there's no impunity if you are excluding people from referral?

Ambassador Rice: No, I don't see a downside. As you well know, the United States is not a party and we have thought it important, if we were going to, for the first time, affirmatively support such a resolution, to make sure that is was clear the limitations as to who jurisdiction applied to. That's why we supported that phrase. Your assertion and that of others that somehow this provides a pass for mercenaries, I think, is completely misplaced. I don't think that the International Criminal Court is going to spend its time and effort on foot soldiers that have been paid small amounts of money by Qadhafi. They're going to focus on the big fish, so I think your interest was misplaced.

  Counting on the ICC not to prosecute a certain size of killer seemed a bit strange.  Now with Qatar's admission, it is worse...

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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