America boycotts opening of world court

By Stephen Castle
Wednesday 12 March 2003 01:00

The United States showed its opposition to the new International Criminal Court (ICC) set up at The Hague to try war crimes by boycotting its inauguration ceremony yesterday.

The American ambassador to the Netherlands, Clifford Sobel, refused to attend the gathering, which was hosted at The Hague by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general.

Mr Annan said the ICC, billed as the descendent of the tribunal at Nuremberg set up after the Second World War, was "the embodiment of our collective conscience". But the US, which claims its servicemen could be targeted by politically motivated cases, has signed treaties with more than 20 nations giving its citizens immunity from the ICC.

Richard Dicker, director of the international justice programme for Human Rights Watch, accused the US government of trying to create a "two-tier justice system" with one law for US citizens and another for everyone else.

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