Quoted in a recent article in the Guardian, Noah Weisbord, an assistant professor at the Florida International University College of Law, who helped draft additions to the statute of the International Criminal Court and was a law clerk to the chief prosecutor of the ICC in the Hague, in an email, said U.S. soldiers could theoretically be tried by the ICC even though the U.S. is not a signatory. But such cases would have to be referred by the U.N. security council and, given that the U.S. has a veto on the council, this makes it very improbable.
Countries that are signatories to the ICC such as Canada or the UK could not arrest U.S. citizens and send them to the Hague.
Weisbord added: “There are, however, a number of fora where U.S. soldiers can be tried for torture. For example, some states have national laws that give their courts universal jurisdiction or other types of robust extraterritorial jurisdiction. This is unrelated to ICC membership. Jurisdiction stems from their domestic laws.”
Pentagon investigating link between US military and torture centres in Iraq
Defense Department says ‘it will take time’ to respond to 15-month investigation by BBC Arabic and the Guardian
The Pentagon is investigating allegations linking the US military to human rights abuses in Iraq by police commando units who operated a network of detention and torture centres.
A 15-month investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic, published on Wednesday, disclosed that the US sent a veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee Iraqi commando units involved in some of the worst acts of torture during the American-led occupation.
The allegations, made by US and Iraqi witnesses, implicate US advisers for the first time in these human rights abuses. It is also the first time that the then US commander in Iraq, David Petraeus, has been linked through an adviser to the abuses.
Colonel Jack Miller, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Guardian on Thursday: “Obviously we have seen the reports and we are currently looking into the situation.”
In an email, he added: “As you know the issue surrounding accusation of abuse and torture of Iraqi detainees is a complex one that is full of history and emotion. It will take time to work a thorough response.”
The Pentagon argument is that it needs time because of the legal implications and also because those named in the documentary no longer serve in the military.
The relatively muted response in the US contrasted with that in Iraq. In Samarra, one of the centres of the Sunni insurgency against US-led forces and where Iraqis are alleged to have been tortured in a library, residents greeted a showing of the documentary on Wednesday evening.
Waleed Khalid said thousands of people gathered in the city for anti-government protests were excited to watch part of the documentary and there was a plan to set up big screens to show the whole film on Friday.