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Europe Law and Liberties D66 European Parliament International Criminal Court

Plenary intervention: American Servicemembers´s Protection Act on EU-US relations

   Thu 04/07/2002

Intervention of Lousewies Van der Laan Member of the European Parliament for Democrats 66

Plenary debate on the consequences of the American Servicemembers´s Protection Act on EU-US relations

Intervention of Lousewies Van der Laan Member of the European Parliament for Democrats 66

Plenary debate on the consequences of the American Servicemembers´s Protection Act on EU-US relations

Voorzitter, Bij zeer hoge uitzondering zal ik vandaag in het Engels spreken, omdat ik mij ook rechtstreeks tot onze Amerikaanse vrienden wil richten. (President, very exceptionally I will speak English today, in order to also address our American friends directly)

Tomorrow is July 4th, Independence Day. We join our American friends in the celebration of America´s achievements. In two world wars the Americans came to liberate us from darkness and violence. And when the Balkans erupted the Americans stepped in when Europe failed. The Americans are there when you need them, ready to fight and die for a world of freedom and democracy.

Freedom and democracy however do not stop after obtaining peace. In order to maintain peace and prevent wars, perpetrators of crimes must always be brought to justice.

That is why we in Europe find it utterly incomprehensible that Americans are now cheering their legislators along as their are killing off an essential tool that was missing in our quest to make the world a safer and more just place: the International Criminal Court.

The court has a mandate to prosecute only the most horrible crimes: genocide, mass murder, mass rape. In the past we have had to set up ad hoc tribunals for the Milosevics of this world. Now 74 countries have ratified the Court which Kofi Annan rightly calls: "a great victory for justice and world order, a turn away from the rule of brutal force, and towards the rule of law"

America and Europe have built in safeguards to ensure the Court will not become a political tool. ANY government can prevent the Court from taking action against its citizens by prosecuting them at home. Despite all this the US has withdrawn its signature.

If that were not a large enough blow to international justice, Congress then accepted the American Servicemembers' Protection Act, which not only threatens to withhold military and financial support to any country that co-operates with the Court, NO, it allows the US to invade a long time friend and ally. My country to be precise. President, the Dutch people can not understand how our American friends can now threaten us with violence. And for what?

Is it really more important to allow American soldiers to commit war crimes than to build a safer world? Is it necessary to jeopardise international peace keeping missions just to make a point that superpowers do not have to play by the rules?

Perhaps this is an opportunity for Europe. Europe has a chance to show the world that it is a Union of values. That we believe in a world in which all are equal before the law. A world in which perpetrators of crimes will be brought to justice no matter who they are or where they are hiding. A world ruled by law, not by the sword of the mightiest. I can not believe that Americans do not also want this type of world and hope deeply they will reconsider their position. But until they do Europe must take the lead. We must show the world that we will stick to our principles and fight for justice. If a majority of the house sends that signal to the world tomorrow by supporting our compromise resolution then we are also celebrating Independence Day - the day that Europe stood up for its values.