July 24, 2003

SOUTH AFRICA: Won't indemnify US troops from ICC prosecutions

Cabinet says government will not enter into a bilateral agreement with the United States to indemnify US troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Cabinet said this on July 24 during its mid-year Lekgotla, which started in Pretoria yesterday and is expected to end tomorrow.

Cabinet said the South African government would communicate through appropriate channels with the US, and reiterated that Pretoria 'would not enter into such a bilateral agreement.' For this reason, Washington has suspended military aid to South Africa including 34 other African countries because they had not granted this immunity, suspending a multi-million dollar military aid for their failure or refusal to give US citizens immunity.

The ICC is the world first permanent court to try cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. 'South Africa's position in this regard is premised on its commitment to the humanitarian objectives of the ICC and the country's international obligations,' Cabinet said. It said any military shortfall resulting from US decision to terminate military aid, would be done through the defence department's normal budgeting and adjustment processes. (BuaNews, Pretoria)

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