by Compiled from Wire Services
Nov 18, 2016 12:00 am
The United States expressed regret Wednesday that Russia had withdrawn from the International Criminal Court -- 14 years after Washington made exactly the same decision. While Washington accuses Russian forces of brutal crimes in Syria and Ukraine, it does not accept the jurisdiction of the court over its own personnel.
Like Russia, the United States signed the Rome Statute of July 17, 1998, but neither country ever ratified it and now both have definitively rejected its authority.
Russia's decision was seen by many as the latest step in a trend that may threaten the future of world justice, after a string of African countries pulled out from the court.
"Obviously we recognize these are decisions that ultimately are sovereign national decisions to make," US State Department spokesman John Kirby said. "But that doesn't -- even though we're not a signatory -- diminish our belief that the court does provide a valuable framework."
The United States withdrew from the Rome Statute in May 2002, in a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from US undersecretary of state John Bolton.
At the time, the former U.S. President George W. Bush had just launched a global war on terror and invaded Afghanistan in response to the September 11 attacks.
On Tuesday, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she is considering launching a full investigation into reports that US CIA operatives tortured captive suspects. U.S. investigations concluded that the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation techniques" were unlawful.
Bush's successor, President Barack Obama banned the harsh techniques and in August 2014 admitted candidly: "We tortured some folks."
Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday he might follow Russia's example and withdraw from the International Criminal Court, where his critics say he could be charged over the thousands killed in his war on drugs.
In a statement before flying to Peru to attend the annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, Duterte also said the United Nations has been inutile in stopping wars. He said if China and Russia decide to create a new world order, he would be the first to join them and leave the U.N., which he said is dominated by the U.S. "You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I would be the first to join," he said, adding that he would quit the U.N.
Duterte also criticized the global agreement to fight climate change, saying there are no penalties for violators and it is not clear which industrialized countries will contribute money to support developing countries' efforts against global warming.
The foul-mouthed Duterte said that like Russia, he might withdraw from the ICC "because we the small ones are the only ones being beaten up," but nothing has been done for the thousands of children and women dying in bombings in Syria and Iraq.