Friday, May 04, 2007

Desperate for Money, Montenegro Hastily Agrees to U.S. Immunity Deal

PODGORICA, Montenegro -- In efforts to appease the United States government and increase bilateral relations between the two countries, Vijetsi reported yesterday that Montenegro has accepted the U.S. “Article 98” Immunity Agreement.

By signing this Agreement, Montenegro pledges to the United States not to extradite U.S. citizens stationed in Montenegro for possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – an effort to shield U.S. citizens from prosecution by the newly-created ICC. Dubbed “impunity agreements” by leading legal experts, these bilateral agreements, if signed, would provide that neither party to the accord would bring the other’s current or former government officials, military or other personnel (regardless of whether or not they are nationals of the state concerned) before the jurisdiction of the Court. This wide class of persons would include anyone found on the territory of the state concluding the agreement with the U.S. who works or has worked for the U.S. government.

Government legal experts have stated that this could easily include non-Americans and could include citizens of the state in which they are found, effectively preventing that state from taking responsibility for its own citizens.

Many legal, government and NGO representatives argue that the U.S. is misusing Article 98 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the provision of the ICC’s governing treaty that the U.S. is using to justify seeking such accords. Legal experts furthermore contend that if countries that have ratified the Rome Statute enter into such agreements, they would breach their obligations under international law.

Although this agreement has been accepted by over 100 countries, the European Union has staunchly opposed this contract claiming that the setback for countries not accepting this Articticle is that the US cuts off any military aid to the countries. U.S. officials have publicly threatened economic sanctions, such as the termination of military assistance, if countries do not sign the agreement. In several instances, there have been media reports of the U.S. providing large financial packages to countries at the time of their signature of bilateral immunity agreements, including a very attractive package to Montenegro.

By signing this agreement, Montenegro is exposed to the following ramifications:

1) Montenegro would breach their obligations under the Rome Statute, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and possibly their own extradition laws.

2) Montenegro will breach Articles 27, 86, 87, 89 and 90 of the Rome Statute, which require states to cooperate with and provide assistance to the Court.

3) Montenegro will also violate Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which obliges them to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the Statute.

4) Finally, Montenegro will likely violate their own extradition laws in signing such agreements, as states generally have much wider power to approve extraditions and surrenders of persons than the US-proposed bilateral immunity agreements would allow.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if this in any way effects the extradition of Doda Lucaj (Doci)?


Conference Organizer said...

Solana says Montenegro-US treaty not in line with EU principles

May 16, 2007

The agreement between Montenegro and the United States on non-extradition of US soldiers to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is not in line with the EU principles, EU official told Montenegrin media.

Javier Solana, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, did not clarify whether the agreement could trigger a negative impact on Montenegro.

"The signing of such agreement will be on the agenda of Brussels-Podgorica meetings, but there will be no demarche or other tough reaction by the European Union, Solana said.

The two governments signed the so-called Article 98 agreement, a bilateral immunity deal that would shield the US troops and nationals stationed in Montenegro from possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

Shortly after the signing, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn called for termination of the agreement.

Anonymous said...

The EU scolded Montenegro for its decision to seal the so-called Article 98 agreement with the US, which protects US citizens from proceedings before the International Criminal Court.

The EU ambassadors to Podgorica expressed their disapproval during a meeting Thursday (May 24th) within the Enhanced Permanent Dialogue (EPD), which reviews progress the country has made in the EU-reform agenda.

The ambassadors said that by supporting Article 98, Podgorica has stepped back from EU values.

Anonymous said...

he's been sent back