US ICC immunity pact for National Assembly
Stabroek News
May 16, 2004

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The National Assembly will consider ratifying the pact to exempt US soldiers from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) when it meets tomorrow.

A motion for the ratification of the bilateral immunity agreement is scheduled to be moved in the assembly tomorrow, although Guyana is still to ratify the Rome Statute to recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Nevertheless, the government has agreed to confirm and ratify the controversial bilateral agreement and to perform and carry out the stipulations set out, according to the motion.

According to the terms of the agreement, Guyana will not transfer or surrender persons of the USA to the ICC without the consent of the US government. Or, where Guyana does extradite, surrender, transfer or expel a person of the USA to any other entity or third country, it will not agree to the surrender of that person to the ICC, again without the express consent of the US government. The agreement caters for US nationals, military personnel as well as current and former government officials and employees, including contractors.

Government has been accused of deception by observers for signing the controversial agreement before the ratification of Rome Statute.

President Bharrat Jagdeo, in July of last year, had indicated his administration's intention to sign the bilateral agreement, but only after the formal ratification of the Rome Statute.

However, the agreement was secretly signed by Foreign Affairs Minister Rudy Insanally in December last year with US Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker during a visit here.

Jagdeo had said the government had held internal discussions on the ratification and its implications, but national interests were taken into consideration as the US cut military aid to countries which ratified the Rome Treaty.

"It's not a fear. The US has made it clear that they will cut off the aid. I need the military cooperation with the US to continue. It is as clear as that. I can't be more clear," the President said at the time.