WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) – If Democrat John Kerry wins the presidential election in November he would end U.S. threats to cut aid as a way of pushing countries to keep American soldiers out of the International Criminal Court, a spokeswoman for his campaign said on Friday.
The spokeswoman, who asked not to be named, was commenting on a meeting earlier this week between a top advisor to the Kerry campaign, Randy Beers, and a group of Latin American diplomats where the issue was discussed.
Diplomatic sources quoted Beers as having said Kerry would not take the same approach as the Bush administration, which is using threats to cut military aid to persuade countries to sign “Article 98″ agreements in which they undertake not to surrender U.S. citizens to the court.
“A Kerry administration would ensure that there are protections for our troops but the approach to getting those protections would be different,” the campaign spokeswoman said, describing President George W. Bush’s tactics as “aggressive, confrontational”.
Kerry would continue to pursue Article 98 agreements but would not use threats to cut off aid, the spokeswoman said.
So far 92 countries have signed the bilateral non-surrender agreements with the United States, which refuses to ratify the statute creating the court.
Earlier this month the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to a foreign aid bill that would also halt non-military assistance to countries that do not sign the Article 98 agreements.
Opponents of the agreements say the United States is trying to put its nationals above the law. The Bush administration says the court lacks safeguards to ensure against politically motivated prosecutions and that U.S. human rights violators should be tried in U.S. courts.
All members of the European Union except the Czech Republic have ratified the ICC statute. The court began work two years ago, trying cases of genocide, war crimes and other serious human rights abuses where national authorities are unwilling or unable to prosecute.