Chilling. - Molly
Human rights advocates were shocked when Foreign Policy reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might close the department's war crime office
The United States has a long history of noncooperation with international legal entities. For example, America is not a member of the International Criminal Court. Add to that the fact that President Trump has not been shy about his “America First” style of foreign relations. But this week, human rights advocates and State Department watchers were shocked when Foreign Policy broke the story that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was poised to shut the Department’s war crimes office.
It’s another example of the “streamlining” of government agencies advocated by the Trump administration — in part necessitated by budget cuts. The Office of Global Criminal Justice, as it is formally known, has a small staff of about a dozen employees and an annual budget of only $3 million. But the State Department has been asked to cut its budget by 31 percent.
The office may have been especially vulnerable because it is one of those run by an envoy who is appointed by the president, not career staff. Stephen J. Rapp, who headed the office under President Obama, has already been reassigned to other duties. Rapp was well experienced in international criminal justice systems — he served on tribunals for Rwanda and Sierra Leone. During his tenure he arranged for an important Syrian defector to provide photographic evidence of FBI detainees in al-Assad’s prisons. According to The New York Times, Rapp also pushed Kosovo leadership to accept its human rights tribunal and for Senegal’s prosecution of Hissène Habré, the former dictator of Chad.
But human rights advocates aren’t buying the budgetary excuse. Nina Burleigh at Newsweekhas more on the story:
“It just makes official what has been US policy since 9/11, which is that there will be no notice taken of war crimes because so many of them were being committed by our own allies, our military and intelligence officers and our elected officials,” Maj. Todd E. Pierce, a former judge advocate general defense attorney at Guantanamo, told Newsweek. “The war crime of conspiring and waging aggressive war still exists, as torture, denial of fair trial rights, and indefinite detention are war crimes. But how embarrassing and revealing of hypocrisy would it be to charge a foreign official with war crimes such as these? That’s not to defend the closing of this office but to lament that is has been rendered irrelevant.”
Please continue this article here: http://billmoyers.com/story/have-we-found-cure-atrocities-of-war/