Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
US Bars Entry to International Criminal Court Investigators (apnews.com)
127 points by tareqak 3 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 73 comments





The Secretary of State sees fit to make a public announcement about how ICC investigators won't be granted US visas, but when a Saudi national commits a fatal hit-and-run on US soil, he can be flown out by his government under the cover of night, no problem [1]. Here's what the attorney for the family of the victim said:

"While we appreciate Secretary Pompeo's condolences, what we need is a commitment by this administration to act: to negotiate with the King of Saudi Arabia for the return of Mr Noorah. We understand that while 'the law enforcement options are limited', the Department of State options are not so limited."

It is beyond parody that a government undertaking multiple military campaigns abroad, including helping Saudi Arabia foment a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, is claiming to be powerless to act because Saudi Arabia doesn't have a bilateral extradition treaty with the US. As if there aren't billions in arms deals and military aid that the US could use as leverage if they wanted to.

Pompeo clearly has far bigger priorities. Like making sure ICC investigators looking into Israel's settlements also can't set foot in the US either.

[1]https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-47377888


I think the US makes its stance abundantly clear: it's fine with crimes committed by governments, government officials, or in the name of a government. It's not fine with persecuting those crimes.

There's honestly no other way to read this as far as I can tell.


I was just reading about this guy today who was a German citizen who was kidnapped from Macedonia and sent to a blacksite in Afghanistan and tortured for months:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_El-Masri

Why? His name was one-letter away from another suspect:

    Khalid El-Masri
    Khalid Al-Masri [1]
And the famous female CIA "queen of torture" decided on a hunch he could be the same guy, apparently against the wishes of her subordinates, and had him kidnapped.

I'm not a fan of ICC as a solution to this problem. But it's interesting that the people behind very obvious torture/kidnapping are going unpunished.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_al-Masri


A really tragic case.

The CIA dropped him, dirty and in ragged clothes, on some country road in Albania. Where he was detained again, because he looked like a terrorist. (!)

He's obviously broken. After returning to Germany he committed violent crimes and was sentenced to prison.

No idea why the court did not send him to a psychiatric clinic.


And it's quite unsatisfying that the questions about what the German government knew when and did about it never got useful answers or consequences.

Or Macedonia.

Which may be an equally a relevant point to this topic.


This is literally the plot to Brazil... Life imitates art

"I'm not a fan of ICC as a solution to this problem"

Why not, seems reasonable on the face of it.

Genuine question, not American, so maybe unaware of nuances.


For what it's worth, Chomsky has been saying "If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged." since the 90s.

https://chomsky.info/1990____-2/


Very interesting read!

"it turns out a war crime is any war crime that you can condemn them for but they can’t condemn us for"


To be fair, I think a similar point was made about the Allies at the time.

History, and laws are written by the victors it seems.


Allies bombed the shit out of citizens(Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, not to mention Hiroshima/Nagasaki). I don't think there's any debate that war crimes were committed there.

I mean forget the bombs, people actually know about them. More Germans died from starvation than victims of Nagasaki AFTER the 1918 armistice when UK insisted on keeping the blockade for almost another year after the Germans surrendered [1]. It's not like anyone involved are going to end up in court.

Hell, we're even celebrating Madeleine Albright today as a strong feminist or something despite her saying it was worth starving more Iraqi children than Hiroshima+Nagasaki combined [2] during the first gulf war blockades. But ya, let's get all warm and tingly inside instead because W gave Michelle a candy or something.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockade_of_Germany#After_armi... [2] https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7...


Look up what is nicknamed the "Hague Invasion Act" (thanks, John Bolton). The US is extremely hostile to foreign accountability.

ICC has no jurisdiction in the United States. U.S. did not ratify the treaty. No point in letting them pretend they do.

Imagine European idealists prosecuting Clinton, Bush and Obama for "war crimes"? No way.


Neither did Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Belarus, Cuba, Nicaragua, etc.

Here's the map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court#/...


The ICC is no better than the US. It's selective justice, to further political ends.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Court#C...

For example, I find it incredibly hard to believe there aren't more than a few Palestinian war criminals (regardless of any opinion of the justness -or not- of their "struggle", each side should admit there are more than a few immoral actions committed on both sides), for example, yet we see zero action. ALL the prosecuted individuals from former Yugoslavia are from one particular side of the conflict ... it is completely absurd. The same can be said for half the countries listed, no shortage of genocides committed by these people. Those are just the things that really jump out at me.

Here's another thing: there are plenty of war criminals in the Netherlands. Even their home country, the Netherlands, has refused to persecute people involved in:

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rawagede_massacre

2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rengat#The_Rengat_massacre

3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srebrenica_massacre

The Dutch state has chosen to protect both individuals, commanders and the chain of command in military and government in each case. Do I really need to point out that this directly contradicts the rules of the UN and the statutes of the ICC as well as Dutch law ? It seems redundant at this point.

And if you look to Dutch history, the role of the Dutch Royal family in hundreds of genocides ... this is not going to improve your opinion of the country (which the Royal family still more or less controls).

Here's what the Dutch do to war criminals:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutchbat#/media/File:Unifill_D...

Note the applause.

So can we please stop pretending any kind of justice can be had from the ICC ? This is a joke in very bad taste.


Yeah, Africans are also complaining that there are too many Africans among the prosecuted. But it's not like there's an alternative. Either we have ICC and at least some war criminals get prosecuted or we have nothing. Take your pick :/

> ICC has no jurisdiction in the United States.

ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes committed in Afghanistan after it's accession to the Rome Statute.

> Imagine European idealists prosecuting Clinton, Bush and Obama for "war crimes"?

The Prosecutor of the ICC is Gambian (the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of Gambia), and the Deputy Prosecutor is Canadian, so you should have no fear of European idealists...


Why not?

Why give up sovereignty?

In the interests of a functional global order where everyone is held to the same standard?

It's very hard to claim the moral high ground when you are not willing to be subject to the same rules as everyone else.


everyone is held to the same standard

When has this ever happened in the history of mankind? Never, it is just a pipe dream.

Bigger, stronger countries set rules/standards for others and exceptions for themselves. That is how it works, whether we like it or not.


Never in the history of mankind have we had the ability to go halfway around the world in one day, or hold a conversation with someone halfway around the world with mere seconds of latency.

Never in the history of mankind have we had weapons capable of annihilating a city with one shot.

Never in the history of mankind have we accessed enough energy and matter to change the balance of the global atmospheric gas concentrations.

This is a time in human history where "never in the history of mankind" things should be given serious consideration.


The things that you listed are scientific achievements. What I pointed out was human behavior, power struggles etc. These are two different things.

A Thousand years ago, various groups of humans were trying to control other groups of humans, with stronger groups setting rules and weaker groups following them. Today we're doing the same. A Thousand years from now, we'll likely be doing the same.


Unlikely. Because if we don't come up with an alternative strategy, there is insufficient incentive for the strong to refrain from using the things I just listed against the weaker groups---or the weaker groups to use them first, preemptively, on the assumption the strong cannot be trusted.

We go that road, and in a thousand years, we won't be doing much of anything because we'll be an extinct species.


That seems a likely outcome and a grim, if satisfying element of the Great Filter hypothesis. In the meantime idealism is generally suicidal. How many people cheered the Arab Spring, only to recoil in horror when the most predictable thing ever happened in its wake? We need to solve the problem of risking our own extinction, but if it isn’t clear yet, we need to do something new, not just volunteering to be hacked to death by the next strongman.

Not only am I skeptical that this will ever happen, a look at how the ICC actually works shows that it has no relation to any ideal of holding everyone to some standard. Just because someone created an organization called the International Criminal Court doesn't mean that it has any connection to fairness or that any reasonable nation ought to subordinate itself to them.

Wikipedia redirects that page to another because it considers that name to be non-neutral [0][1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Service-Members%27_Pr...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hague_Invasion_Ac...


Every country should be hostile to foreign accountability. They are sovereign nations and only accountable to their own citizens.

Do you really want powerful authoritarian countries to take over international organizations and hold democracies "accountable".

Hell no.


> Do you really want powerful authoritarian countries to take over international organizations and hold democracies "accountable".

...exactly how do you think Pax Americana works?

The fact that American citizens are not actually forced but instead misled to cheer war crimes is not really relevant to those who are killed as a result, so I'm not sure how the "authoritarian" part is relevant here.


I would point out that in the case of the ICC, there are no "powerful authoritarian countries" which are members. See the graphic on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_Statute_of_the_Internatio.... It's basically just the Commonwealth, the EU, and the Nordic countries.

> It's basically just the Commonwealth, the EU, and the Nordic countries.

That map shows all of South America, parts of Africa that were never part of the Commonwealth, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and...lots of countries that are neither Commonwealth, EU, nor Nordic.


No powerful authoritarian countries except for former authoritarian european colonial powers and their former slave colonies?

You act like "just the commonwealth, the EU and nordic" is anything good. The history of the british empire ( aka the commonwealth ) is as horrible as any in human history. Not anything humanity should be aspiring to. And the ICC represents western european domination of the world. That's something I as an american abhor and reject.

The US should be prosecuting our own war criminals. Unfortunately, we haven't been doing a good job of it. But lets not pretend the ICC or the EU is any better. How many EU war criminals have the EU or ICC prosecuted? None.

Most of humanity ( 70% I think ) has rejected the ICC. The world has spoken regardless of what europeans think or want.


> The US should be prosecuting our own war criminals. Unfortunately, we haven't been doing a good job of it.

That's reason enough to want ICC intervention. You can't just denounce the ICC and then declare in the same post that alternatives aren't going to work. "Nobody holds the US accountable" isn't really an acceptable scenario.


> "Nobody holds the US accountable" isn't really an acceptable scenario.

Get used to disappointment. That is what it means to be on top.

You could rearrange the world so that there was another power to hold the US accountable, but you might then have difficulty holding them accountable.


> How many EU war criminals have the EU or ICC prosecuted?

The ICC has relatively few cases that have proceeded to prosecution, but of those currently under preliminary inquiry, some include EU citizens as potential criminals, and one (the investigation of potential war crimes by UK nationals during the occupation of Iraq) is exclusively focussed on EU citizens, even if the UK may soon separate from the EU.


> That's something I as an american abhor and reject.

The US did more than its fair share of colonial plundering.


"No powerful authoritarian countries except for former authoritarian european colonial powers and their former slave colonies"

What have the slave colonies done?

And any nation that hasn't had colonies, or been authoritarian at some point in their history, has a very short history.

Should we still be judging the Nordic countries based on how the Vikings behaved?

Are you claiming the US to be whiter than white? How many EU war criminals do you think there are to be prosecuted? Do you have any names?


> The US should be prosecuting our own war criminals. Unfortunately, we haven't been doing a good job of it.

That is precisely the point of the ICC: to prosecute individuals who are deemed by the consensus of its member-nations as "war criminals" (where that term has a strict definition—going back to the Geneva convention—that everyone does seem to agree on when it's someone else committing these crimes against them), but where that so-deemed war-criminal's country of citizenship refuses to prosecute them, or to even recognize them as a war criminal.

> How many EU war criminals have the EU or ICC prosecuted? None.

Well, again, the ICC only exists to prosecute cases where the country of citizenship of the accused refuses to prosecute them. The individual EU member-nations have, AFAIK, prosecuted all their own war criminals, so the ICC never had to get involved.

I would also point out that the countries in "the commonwealth, the EU, and the Nordic countries" have the longest combined history of committing war-crimes (all basically against one-another)—and thus also have the most "institutional knowledge" of game-theoretic problems in getting recognized war criminals dealt with by their country-of-citizenship. This set of countries has the most reason to want some sort of moderator that will ensure that they can hold one-another accountable for their future actions (by, essentially, pre-committing to holding themselves accountable for their own future actions, even in cases where their own future governments refuse to be held so accountable.)

The countries that declined membership in the ICC are mostly (by count) the "authoritarian countries" mentioned above. Presumably, they mostly declined membership because they have at least some "war criminals" as citizens who they refuse to prosecute, who the ICC would demand they hand over.

But maybe that's not the whole of the reason. Looking at the largest-by-population countries that declined membership (or later rescinded an existing membership) we have the US, China, Russia, and India. Well, here's the story for Russia:

> Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000. On 14 November 2016 the ICC published a report on its preliminary investigation of the Russian military intervention in Ukraine which found that "the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol factually amounts to an on-going state of occupation" and that "information, such as reported shelling by both States of military positions of the other, and the detention of Russian military personnel by Ukraine, and vice-versa, points to direct military engagement between Russian armed forces and Ukrainian government forces that would suggest the existence of an international armed conflict in the context of armed hostilities in eastern Ukraine". In response, a presidential decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin approved "sending the Secretary General of the United Nations notice of the intention of the Russian Federation to no longer be a party to the Rome Statute". Formal notice was given on 30 November.

In other words, the ICC made an official statement, and that statement was the one that most countries believe, instead of the Russian-propaganda line on the matter. By continuing to be a member after such a statement was given, Russia would be implicitly endorsing those statements, and thus weakening their own propaganda. Thus, they had to rescind their membership, as the first step to painting the ICC as corrupt or confused or whatever is required to patch the hole in the propaganda campaign.

Maybe some of the other, smaller nations saw this sort of thing coming, and this is why they didn't bother with membership in the first place. They didn't want to have to attempt to whitewash the official statements of an organization to which they were a member.

This also makes for a good explanation for China, given their current approach with the, err, "states" touching them.

I'm not sure either explanation fits the US, so much as the US just 1. hates the idea of the Continent telling it what to do, and 2. doesn't want to be interrupted from an active operation by having one of its active assets—who happens to also be a war-criminal—commandeered to face trial. (This seems a uniquely American stance, to me. Most other nations are quick to punish their war-criminal officers, even if doing so is a setback for any active plans of theirs.)


> That is precisely the point of the ICC: to prosecute individuals who are deemed by the consensus of its member-nations as "war criminals"

ICC prosecution decisions are not made by consensus of member states (nor is that the process for referrals to the ICC, only for changes to the Rome Statute.)

> Well, again, the ICC only exists to prosecute cases where the country of citizenship of the accused refuses to prosecute them.

Not technically only refusals, but failures more generally, and not limited to countries of citizenship.


Sorry, I was unclear there. There is no consensus process, per se; each one of the member-nations will independently arrive at a conclusion about who is or is not potentially a war criminal (in the sense of "we should demand they stand trial"), by independently studying the case.

But since all the member-nations have access to the same evidence-base, and are following the same strict definition of what constitutes a "war criminal" (i.e. the Geneva convention), they tend to all arrive at the same preliminary conclusion. If they didn't, that'd actually be cause for alarm. So there isn't that much auditing going on. It's usually pretty freakin' obvious—given the evidence that is introduced along with the nomination—who should or should not be standing before the ICC.

(Presumably, at any time, any delegate from a member-nation can stand before the court and say "What the heck are you guys on? This guy isn't a war criminal at all." I don't think that's ever happened—has it?—but it's not like the organization is yet so venerable and hidebound by tradition that it's unable to veer away from a course once it's on it.)


> Presumably, at any time, any delegate from a member-nation can stand before the court and say "What the heck are you guys on? This guy isn't a war criminal at all."

No, while the Assembly of State Parties oversees the operation of the Court institutions, I can't find any indication that individual members of the Assembly have the privilege to appear before the Court in particular cases that way.

Representing that a defendant is not guilty is a function for defense counsel; the Assembly of State Parties acts essentially as a legislative body.


Oh, I didn't mean during the trial (where, yes, it's the defense council's job); I meant before the trial. Like, "Why are we trying to demand that country X turn over Lord Notsobad? We don't have anything on them."

The ICC has a multilateral "Office of the Prosecutor" to go along with its multilateral court, and that prosecutor, just like any other prosecutor, can be talked down from an indictment, or convinced to drop charges, before the trial begins. I presume that the member-nation delegates can go to the prosecutor, just like city police can go to a regular municipal prosecutor, and say "Hey, why do you think we'll win this? This is silly. Don't charge the guy. Or drop the charges. They won't stick."


> Every country should be hostile to foreign accountability

Not necessarily. Countries can reasonably accept multilateral institutions. The problem here is the U.S. is not party to the treaty establishing the ICC; it’s therefore reasonable to reject its jurisdiction.


> Every country should be hostile to foreign accountability.

Every tyrant is hostile to accountability. People who care about the rule of law should welcome it.


What if those holding you 'accountable' are those who also reject rule of law in their own situation? That seems to be the usual case.

That's why it's important that tyrants should also be held accountable. Nobody should be above the law.

What about the UN? Or climate accords voluntarily signed up to? What about countries like North Korea, or Venezuela?

Whereas I cant think of any examples of "Powerful authoritarian countries taking over international organizations and holding democracies accountable".


> Every country should be hostile to foreign accountability.

First step: Terminate the international 'policing efforts' of the self-appointed world-police.


As embarrassing as this is from the US side of things, it actually gives credibility to the ICC that the Department of State feels it necessary to push back against them.

From the ICC's standpoint, a simple counter to this would be to have member countries deny entry to any US citizen on the ICC's "needs investigation" list. That includes heads-of-state and their representatives.

Not that I'm advocating for that, but it seems like a solution that would be pretty simple to implement.


This isn't news. At all.

The United States does not, and never has, recognized the International Criminal Court. To the point that they will not bat an eye and declare war on the Netherlands in case a American soldier will be held in jail in The Hague for questioning and appearing before the Court.

And this actually is nothing new and predates the Trump presidency FOR YEARS (17 to be exact):

The "Hague Invasion Act" like Pizza mentioned below or "American Service-Members' Protection Act" which is its official name was signed into law by W on August 2, 2002 and upheld ever since -- yes, even throughout the Obama era.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Service-Members'_Prot...

EDIT: -1 for facts? That's new.


As it should be. It's not appropriate to unilaterally exert power over people who have not consented to it through the establishment of a constitution, legislative controls, and shared ideals that hold that power as authoritative. The idea that anyone would just come into our country and demand that we consent to their understanding of justice, rights, etc. is absurd.

Now, switching topics entirely, are you guys all on board with this American-led push for the opposition leader in Venezuela? Also, how are things in Syria and Yemen these days? Libya? Iraq? Afghanistan? Just curious.


> As it should be. It's not appropriate to unilaterally exert power over people who have not consented to it through the establishment of a constitution, legislative controls, and shared ideals that hold that power as authoritative.

The US should not multilaterally accept the prosecution of war crimes because it's not appropriate to unilaterally exert power over people? That makes no sense.

On top of that, the US doesn't even agree with your position, because the US was the primary driver behind the Nuremberg trials to prosecute German war criminals after WW2, despite Germany not having consented to it through the establishment of a constitution, legislative controls or shared ideals.


Can people not simultaneously be against the ICC and US imperialism?

So it's OK for the US to commit war crimes but not for anyone else?

Who polices the self proclaimed police men of the world?


It's a simple matter of might makes right. Nobody has the power to hold the US or its war criminals accountable, but the US does have the power to hold other countries and their war criminals accountable.

That's simply how this works. There's simply no moral or legal justification for the US's stance towards the ICC compared to their stance in the Nuremberg trials. America's power is the only thing that justifies it.


You can state the facts without making a judgment in passing ("This isn't news. At all.")

To clarify my comment: saying "this isn't news" is akin to downvoting for disagreement. It questions the conversation itself.

The article is stating a fact too; we can discuss its implications, making judgments freely.


They will certainly not declare war, but conduct a covert operation.

(And I hope their special forces get killed and the ship they launched from is sunk.)


Covert operation could happen but would be extremely difficult to execute in practice:

The Hague is where the government of The Netherlands is located. The HQ of the Dutch Military Intelligence Services is at walking distance of the ICC at a military barracks called the Frederikskazerne. And the ICC itselves is located in the International Zone, one of the most heavily guarded and surveilled locations of the Netherlands.


I wonder if that would trigger NATO's article 5 again. Just like when Afghanistan attacked the United St... wait, they didn't.

Did Serbia issue any visas to any ICC members? That's the question. So no matter what ICC can track crimes committed by any party I suppose.

Well, the Serbia of Radovan Karadžić and Slobodan Milošević had been militarily defeated and collapsed by internal revolution. They could then be arrested. I dread to think what the equivalent process would look like in the US.

> Did Serbia issue any visas to any ICC members?

The ICC didn't exist then; you might be confusing it with the ICTY [0], which was one of the two concurrent ad hoc special purpose tribunals that motivated the creation of the ICC as a permanent body intended to global focus.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Criminal_Tribu...


Regarding Serbia, when you lose the war and are a sardine you have zero options. US, China and Russia on the other hand, can pretty much do what they want. (Plus, Serbia committed massive war crimes, pure and simple, with no other explanation.)

Why would USA want some UN bureaucrats investigate them, when they can choose the other option? Would you want anyone investigating you if you had a choice? NOPE.


I donate monthly to the ACLU specifically because whenever something like this comes to light, they're always mentioned as having already begun taking action against it.

[flagged]


You say that like China accepts the ICC. They don't. They never signed the treaty either.

I get really tired of this: I can't condemn more than one bad thing in the world at a time. No criticism of others unless your country has proven itself to be a saint first. That's terrible: you advocate letting some off for terrible acts. We (you included) should be condemning terrible things everywhere you see them.


This is a standard defense tactic, sometimes called "What-about-isms" and is a Trump favourite, as it happens.

There are some topics for some people where they'll dig in and won't see reason whatsoever. China (for Chinese nationals) is a common one when you can bring up any number of subjects, the "re-educations camps" being just one.

But, but, but... what about US internment of Japanese descendants in WW2? Or the genocide of Native Americans? Or slavery?

That's how it goes. Sadly.


The magnitude is important. We overlook the magnitude because it's hard to comprehend numbers like one million people, but it's often the most important.

PS: I think you meant "condemn" not "condone".



I think you meant "condemn", not "condone".

Yep, my mistake.



Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: