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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4880

Senator JOHNSTON (4:14 PM) —It is most regrettable and disappointing that even among allies and friends of the United States the United States must contend with snipers from behind the shield of capitulation and pacifism. I am pleased to say that, save for New Zealand, Australia has a unique and close relationship with the United States. Indeed, she is probably our closest and friendliest ally. The relationship is just that for good reason. These are things that Senator Greig in his urgency motion fails to understand. Australia and the United States have a common and moral view on the question of civil rights. They have a common and moral view on the question of the rule of law and the right to a fair trial and the right to be judged by an impartial judiciary. Very many other cultural and historical similarities draw our two nations together. It is a tragedy that Senator Greig would seek to try and drive a wedge in that relationship with his naive motion. It is a very sad and sorry situation when Senator Greig and a number of other senators were here last week being so much more vociferous, agitated and energetic when talking about China than they have been when talking about the atrocities and the ongoing breaches of human rights in Iraq. The reason for that is that they are anti-American. It is a very sad and sorry situation to see that the Labor Party has been sucked in by exactly that type of sentiment.

It is obvious to anybody with any understanding of international history that America is on the front line of protecting human rights right around the world. It is a difficult and complex frontier. In Somalia, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Kuwait and more recently, of course, in Afghanistan, America is putting its troops on the front line to protect the civil rights of the people in those countries.

Senator George Campbell —Who put the Taliban in Afghanistan? Read your history.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Lightfoot)—Senator George Campbell, you should desist.

Senator JOHNSTON —Some senators sit here in utter and complete ignorance. I remind them to have a look at the plight of women in Afghanistan. Senators will sit here and say that America has gone into the war against terror for its strategic benefit. It is an absolute tragedy that some people in this parliament do not even know why and how they have the freedoms to sit here and express the views that they do.

It is vital to Australia's national interest that the United States continue to maintain its peacekeeping forces right around the world. It is to our benefit that they commit those forces. What we have seen here is a living, breathing, walking example of why the United States should not participate in the International Criminal Court. We have seen here anti-American sentiment, anti-American prejudice, anti-American bias and then they complain why the Americans will not be judged. All they will get is that level of justice and that is what they are worried about. So Senator Greig in his motion explains why the Americans will not have a bar of it.

Senator McGauran —He doesn't even want the Taliban rooted out!

Senator George Campbell —You supported them!

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESI-DENT —Senator McGauran and Senator George Campbell, please desist from your cross-chamber interjections and your dialogue with each other!

Senator JOHNSTON —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. The reasons why the United States would not entertain submitting its citizens to this jurisdiction are exemplified, sadly, by the bias here in this parliament. They are exemplified by descriptions and quotes in the Iraq debate last week. When talking about why America was looking towards arresting this dire situation in Iraq, Senator Nettle said:

Some of this engagement has been constructive, but the current rhetoric is totally unproductive and clearly focused on extending US influence in the region, particularly relating to resources. `Regime change' is marketing jargon for putting in place a new US-friendly government. Regime change does not mean democracy, improved human rights for Iraqi civilians or stability in the Middle East; it simply means putting in place someone the United States can do business with.

That is the type of anti-American sentiment, anti-American naivety, that the Americans are absolutely frightened of. But there is a saving grace: article 98, which Senator Greig conveniently failed to address in his urgency motion. Article 98 is clear in its terms. It states that such bilateral agreements are intended to operate under article 98(2) of the ICC statute which provides:

The Court may not proceed with a request for surrender—

and that means of a citizen—

which would require the requested State to act inconsistently with its obligations under international agreements pursuant to which the consent of a sending State is required to surrender a person of that State to the Court, unless the Court can first obtain the cooperation of the sending State for the giving of consent for the surrender.

The US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, is reported to have said on 20 September, while meeting with the UK government, that 16 countries had signed, or were about to sign, bilateral article 98(2) agreements. He is also reported to have said:

What we are asking is that if there is a crime then that person not go to the ICC. But we believe in the rule of the law and we will ensure that the person is investigated and properly prosecuted.

He was thereby indicating that the US recognises that impunity is unacceptable and that persons credibly accused of ICC crimes should be investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted.

The fact is that, while His Excellency the Ambassador for the United States, Ambassador Schieffer, was in this parliament both this morning and last night, providing advice as to the current circumstances in Iraq and elsewhere in the world, none of Senator Greig's colleagues—none of the people behind this motion—were there to hear him. They are talking in utter and complete ignorance about the current state of world affairs. The fact is that their deep-seated, deep-rooted prejudice against the United States is the absolutely classic reason why the United States should not, could not and would not submit its citizens to the type of bias that these people would deliver to them in judgment.