Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Foreign Court Jurisdiction over United States Citizens

As reported by the Associated Press today, a Spanish judge issues international arrest warrants for three United States service members whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war that killed a Spanish journalist and a Ukrainian cameraman, a court official said Wednesday. Spain conceded that it will be difficult to arrest those three individuals because they are not in Spain. Apparently, prior requests to interview those three individuals, Sgt. Shawn Gibson, cap. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, whose tank fired on the Hotel Palestine in April 2003, were not granted and the United States did not respond to Spanish requests.

The article also indicated that on of the military personnel, De Camp, said that the United States two military investigations and one investigation by the Committee to Protect Journalists had exonerated all three men. Apparently Spain can prosecute individuals who commit crimes against Spanish citizens abroad if there is no investigation regarding the alleged crime. In a new release by Committee to Protect Journalists released in 2003,
"A Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) investigation into the incident—based on interviews with about a dozen reporters who were at the scene, including two embedded journalists who monitored the military radio traffic before and after the shelling occurred—suggests that attack on the journalists, while not deliberate, was avoidable. CPJ has learned that Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it.However, these senior officers apparently failed to convey their concern to the tank commander who fired on the hotel."

The Spanish judge appears to discount United States military investigations and also discounted the investigation conducted by Committee to Protect Journalists. Sounds to me that Spain may be splitting straws on this case.

Recall, not long ago, the World Court assumed jurisdiction over a case (not related to the above case) when it issued its first World Court Arrest Warrant. At the time, I pointed out that we may be headed down a slippery slope on the issuing international arrest warrants by foreign courts or the World Court. It appears to me that there is potential for abuse of power with other countries imposing jurisdiction and the world court imposing jurisdiction. The UN cannot even get to the bottom of the corrupt UN oil for food program, let alone administer objective court hearings.

In 2003 Howard N. Meyer, in an article in History News Network posed a question that isn't it time we rejoin the world court? Apparently we (United States) left in 1986 because we were concerned with jurisdictional matters and did not want to relinquish sovereignty over of our citizens. Apparently we (United States) left in 1986 because we were concerned with jurisdictional matters and did not want to relinquish sovereignty over of our citizens. Mr. Meyer is a liberalist who would rather go along with world opinion rather than state sovereignty.

If it is possible for barratry to occur? Should we blindly go along with the UN, World Court, or other foreign court proceedings? Is Howard N. Meyers on track or off track? How do you feel about compulsory jurisdiction? Could world court or other foreign court jurisdiction result in frivolous or politically motivated requests for prosecution?

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Cross-posted: The Bosun Locker, Navy Corner.

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