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Seeking Global Justice

Aired March 24, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, seeking global justice, the United States changes its game plan.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

Many hailed it as a triumph for global justice when the International Criminal Court was established back in 2002, but the ICC has faced an uphill battle ever since, and not just because it's difficult to prosecute war crimes, but because it never had the support of the most powerful member, the United States.

The Bush administration had refused to sign on, saying the court could put U.S. citizens in legal jeopardy.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, as the United States works to bring peace around the world, our diplomats and/or soldiers could be drug into this court.


AMANPOUR: But under President Obama, the White House has now shifted course somewhat, announcing this week that it still won't sign on to the treaty, but it will seek ways to support some of the key ICC prosecutions. And to find out what this change of heart will mean, we're joined by Stephen Rapp, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes.

Thank you very much for joining us.


AMANPOUR: So the obvious first question is, why? Why now?

RAPP: Well, the Obama administration is dedicated to an approach of engagement, engagement with international institutions, engagement with countries in our interests and consistent with our values.

AMANPOUR: But you're still not signing on to the so-called Rome statute?

RAPP: No, we remain concerned that it might be possible for a prosecutor who's not accountable to anyone to -- to target an American who's out doing the work that 3 million Americans are doing around the world today, protecting people from terror and atrocity.

AMANPOUR: So what exactly will you be doing? What does this shift indicate? What does it mean?

RAPP: Well, first of all, we're engaging with the ICC again. There are some very important issues that are being dealt with, issues like potentially them moving forward with a crime of aggression, and we have to engage in that to protect our interest and to protect international justice.

But we also recognize that we've been a leader since Nuremberg in bringing justice to victims of atrocities in Rwanda, with the Rwanda tribunal where I worked, and Sierra Leone, and Yugoslavia, et cetera. And in the future, there is not going to be a new international court created for specific situations. The ICC is where justice will be delivered, if it is to be delivered.

AMANPOUR: Well, we're going to talk about how that will be implemented. But, first, you just said the crime of aggression. What is that?

RAPP: Well, aggression is the crime that we prosecuted in a way at Nuremberg, but when a massive, aggressive war by the Nazis against the countries in Europe. And we -- and that is recognized in international law.

However, as defined in a proposed amendment to be considered at the ICC review conference at Kampala, it could include almost any act of crossing a border or assisting or allowing another country...

AMANPOUR: So you're concerned about U.S. citizens again, troops, diplomats?

RAPP: Well, particularly. And -- and our allies, as well. If we're taking protective action in various places, like we did in Kosovo, for instance, people that are involved in trying to protect people could end up being unfairly targeted.

AMANPOUR: Before I go on to the specifics of some of the cases that are currently under jurisdiction at the ICC, didn't -- when the whole statute was drawn up, wasn't there sufficient language put in to -- to allay the very U.S. fears that you're talking about?

RAPP: Well, there was good language, in terms of how the crimes were defined. But our concern was that -- that -- that a prosecutor who -- who was not under, really, any kind of accountability, who's elected for nine years, who doesn't answer to any kind of national system, could say, "Well, over here, we've got someone who murdered 200,000 people. Over here, we have maybe some soldiers that came in to protect some of those people and some folks died in collateral damage. We'll go ahead and prosecute both. We'll target both the protector and -- and -- and the person that committed atrocities."

That kind of thing could happen, and it could put us in our protective, sort of indispensable role that we play in the world at risk when we're doing the right thing.

AMANPOUR: All right. So now you're talking about supporting the ICC in its current prosecutions, which it has. There is the prosecution and the indictment of President Bashir of Sudan. There is also the indictment of the rebel leader, Joseph Kony, in Uganda. There is the indictment in the Central African Republic, the former Congolese militia leader, Bemba. And in Kenya, there are also prosecutions being sought.


Let me play this part of an interview from the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations about this.


ABDALMAHMOUD ABDALHALEEM, SUDANESE AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: America is an opportunist country. They want to use the ICC without becoming a member. They use the ICC to exempt their soldiers, and they use it through Resolution 1593 also to exempt it from any jurisdiction. So they are using the -- this is a double standard in its worst shape.


AMANPOUR: Is it not a double standard?

RAPP: It's not a double standard, because one of the principles of international justice -- and a principle of the ICC -- is that if you commit crimes, you commit genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, you will hold the people to account in your national system for -- for those crimes.

We have a very tough system of military justice and civilian justice in this country that's, really, a model for the rest of the world. There's no question that, if Americans violate these rules, they'll be prosecuted.

In Sudan, there has been nothing. Those Janjaweed, those others, which according to the evidence had government support, that are -- that are killing and raping tens of thousands of human beings, have faced absolutely no consequences in their system. If Sudan had stepped up and done the kind of thing that the United States would do, there would be no international case.

AMANPOUR: So how are you going to help in the Sudan indictment, for instance? What can the United States -- a shift of so-called support now for the ICC and engagement, what does it mean, practically?

RAPP: Well, first of all, it means that we've said that we'd like to meet with the prosecutor and court officials and ask them what kind of assistance they would need of us. I'm not going to sit down here and speculate on exactly what they -- what they would need. It could involve diplomatic or political efforts; it could involve other things.

But we have in the past provided assistance to the other tribunals, the Yugoslavia tribunal, to the Rwanda tribunal, that has helped in those cases and helped with the victims, et cetera. And so those kinds of things may be under consideration when the prosecutor meets with us.

AMANPOUR: What about, will the U.S. now allow the ICC to conduct interviews in these cases on U.S. soil, which you don't allow right now?

RAPP: Well, we have a system of laws in our country -- as you recall back in 2002, the Congress passed an American Service-Members' Protection Act. It does restrict certain things that the ICC can do in the United States. There are exemptions to that law, however, when you have specific cases that involve non-citizens who are responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

So if those requests come in, we'll look at those in the context of the law and within our government, between the Justice Department, ourselves, the Defense Department, and others, make an evaluation about whether that kind of assistance could be provided.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you again -- I'm going to play something that Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, has said, particularly about the indictment in Sudan against President Bashir.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that it is very significant that a criminal indictment was returned by the International Criminal Court against President Bashir. The actions by the ICC sent a clear message that the behavior of Bashir and his government were outside the bounds of accepted standards.


AMANPOUR: So there are two issues to follow up on that statement from the secretary of state. Number one, what will you do now, as the ICC continues to try to get Bashir into the court at The Hague? Will you support that indictment and the arrest of Bashir or the prosecution? And particularly, I ask you, because the United States is obviously in engagement with Sudan right now.

Ambassador-at-Large Gration has talked to us and elsewhere about carrots, as well as sticks, but a lot of carrots going to Bashir. So how do you square this round hole with this peg?

RAPP: Well, you have -- keep in mind, the policy on Darfur has changed very little between the last administration and this administration.

AMANPOUR: Well, not really, because...

RAPP: The last administration allowed the indictment to go forward, opposed any effort to stop it in the United Nations, and became one of its -- the strongest supporters of accountability for Sudan. And we're following that policy.

AMANPOUR: Well, actually, the ICC says that the last administration was even stronger on this issue and on Bashir than this administration is being.

RAPP: Well, I dispute that. And, I mean, our position has been clear, that the -- that the prosecutor needs to go forward with this investigation, that it shouldn't be stopped, it shouldn't be derailed, or, you know, stayed for a year.


RAPP: And as we said in our statement before the assembly of the ICC yesterday, we've had a lot of experience working with the other international tribunals in bringing leaders to account, and we're willing to share that experience with the ICC to determine the most effective strategies for bringing all of the people that have been indicted by this court before the bar of justice.

AMANPOUR: Let's take the other issue. This is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talking about vast breaches beyond the bound of accepted standards, and that's why she, you know, praised the -- praised the indictment of Bashir.


But what about the vast breaches -- and this gets back again to the United States -- of acceptable standards by, for instance, those who've been accused of torture at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo? Again, many are saying that there is a double standard, and how can the United States lecture the world about other such indictments if it's not going to prosecute its own cases?

RAPP: Well, understand that the principle of complementarity, which I've described, requires countries to conduct genuine investigations. In this administration, the attorney general, a former colleague of mine, a fellow United States attorney, Eric Holder, is examining the question in regard to what was called enhanced interrogation, is making decisions about what kind of cases could be reviewed, has appointed a consul that's outside the normal sort of system, not a fully independent consul, but someone that answers directly to the attorney general.

And what the ICC requires is that you proceed with that process genuinely. Any case that could be brought may have difficulties factually, legally, et cetera. Those are all being examined by the Department of Justice, and that's what the law requires, and that's what the United States is doing in this case, as it's doing in others.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you a personal question. You really came to all of this, a long legal journey, but you were the prosecutor at the Sierra Leone tribunal. You were responsible for what finally ended up, Charles Taylor in -- in court there. How do you personally square that professional work that you've done with now the political work of not really signing up to the Rome statute? How does that play in your mind?

RAPP: Well, it's very consistent. I mean, what all of these courts require is the political, economic, judicial, legal support of various member states, and of the United Nations, of the ICC. You have to have countries that will work in support of bringing accountability.

The United States is a leader in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia, a whole variety of these international courts. Now we're looking at a situation with the ICC, where we have concerns about our own interests, but on the other hand, we see four cases that are being pursued in Africa that cry out for justice. Where there's been -- where there's been genocide, mass murder, crimes against humanity, accountability needs to be achieved.

And we have to figure out a way, if we can, that we can assist that process, because that's consistent with our values as Americans, consistent with the work to which I've dedicated my life.

AMANPOUR: Can you tell me briefly what's the single most important help now that these cases might get now that the United States is offering engagement?

RAPP: Well, I mean, the single-most important help is that the United States is prepared to listen and to work with the ICC and go through requests that the prosecutor has. And we're not going to prejudge what those requests are. There may be obstacles under our law. But we're prepared to do what we can to bring justice to the victims in the DRC, in Uganda, and Sudan, and in the Central African Republic.

AMANPOUR: And do you foresee a time when it won't just be African nations which are prosecuted, that it would be a wider net cast? Because this is causing some people in that area quite a lot of anxiety.

RAPP: Well, that's to some extent unfair. Three of these cases came from the African countries themselves. The other came from the Security Council. Obviously, if similar crimes occur elsewhere, they need to be looked at, and the prosecutor, for instance, in Colombia and other places is -- is watching the situation when it comes to violations of humanitarian law, to see if the national systems will do it.

The preferable approach is, of course, that in Africa and in other places, that the countries themselves step up to the plate and do the right thing, and the United States in particular wants to help those efforts which are closest to the victims and closest to the affected communities.

So the ICC has a role not just in bringing its cases, but in helping push for accountability at the -- at the national level.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Ambassador Rapp, thank you so much for joining us.

RAPP: Enjoyed it. Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And next, we'll ask one of the ICC's prosecution team what this shift in U.S. policy will really mean. Stay with us.




COURTENAY GRIFFITHS, LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL: Were you regularly receiving mayonnaise jars full of diamonds from the RUF?

CHARLES TAYLOR, FORMER LIBERIAN PRESIDENT: Never, ever did I receive whether it is mayonnaise or coffee or whatever jar, never receive any diamonds from the RUF. It's a lie. It's a diabolical lie. Never.


AMANPOUR: That was an emphatic Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who is now on trial at a special tribunal set up to prosecute war crimes in Sierra Leone. The ICC was established to replace all the ad hoc war crimes tribunals that have been set up to cover all these issues in the past two decades.

Joining me now, Beatrice Le Fraper, who's the special adviser to the ICC prosecutor.

Thank you for joining us.


AMANPOUR: First and foremost, how big a shift and how big a support is the United States' new policy of engagement with the ICC?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: It's essential for us. It's -- we're really excited about the announcement by the Obama administration yesterday. We have our shopping list ready of requests for assistance from the -- from the American government.

The American government first has to lead on one particular issue, the arrest of sought war criminals. President al-Bashir, Joseph Kony in Uganda, Bosco Ntaganda, the "Terminator in the Congo," all those people have arrest warrants against them, arrest warrants issued by the ICC judges, and they need to be arrested now.

AMANPOUR: So what do you expect the United States to do, send in troops and pick them up?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: In the case of Joseph Kony in Uganda, he is a militia leader surrounded by armed men. We need the support of -- the operational support of countries like the U.S. to the DRC, to Uganda, to the Central African Republic to assist them in mounting an operation to arrest him.

They have the will, so it's a totally legitimate operation, politically, legally, but they need this kind of assistance. And the U.S. has to be the leader. The Europeans will follow, but we need the U.S. in the lead.

AMANPOUR: Beyond the arrest, which the U.S. does have very significant capacities to do that, what else are you looking for? What else will this support mean in terms of -- I don't know. I asked Ambassador Rapp about whether it would mean being allowed to investigate and interrogate or question people on U.S. soil.

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: Again, for us, Christiane, the most important is diplomatic support. You know, in the case of al-Bashir, it's not a matter of arresting him or -- we don't need an information for -- on the crimes committed by President al-Bashir. We know. We have all the evidence. What we need is leadership in isolating him, in making him clearly a fugitive.

President Nicolas Sarkozy from France has taken the absolutely unprecedented decision in the history of French diplomacy to cancel a French-African summit in order not to meet President Bashir in a corridor. So this is a kind of leadership we also expect from the U.S., total isolation of President Bashir.

AMANPOUR: Because he is, actually, traveling to other summits in the region, sometimes in the -- in the Middle East and elsewhere?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: He's not traveling to any state party. There has been a fantastic evolution from countries like South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal. Those countries, the heads of state, have told Bashir (inaudible) if you come to our territory, since we are member of the ICC tribe, since we are state parties, you would be arrested if you came on our territory.


Those countries have shown leadership, also, and we expect the U.S. to really support them in clearly -- as clearly as they can saying that all we can expect from Bashir is that he goes to The Hague and faces justice.

AMANPOUR: What -- does it still matter to you that the U.S. has not signed the Rome statute?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: This is really a decision of the U.S. administration. For the office of the prosecutor, ratification is not our main concern. We want cooperation, and we want it now.

AMANPOUR: In terms of -- just explain again what the Rome statute actually means for our viewers. What does it actually mean formally?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: The Rome statute gives an international prosecutor the right to investigate and prosecute mass crime, massive crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes. We're not talking about a few pennies pinched here and there.

And the prosecutor can investigate those massive crimes when the national jurisdictions are not doing it, when the national judiciary are not doing it. So it's really exceptional.

AMANPOUR: Then why is the United States still so worried about politically motivated potential arrests of its own personnel, whether they be troops, diplomats, or whoever?

And you heard Ambassador Rapp again talk about that worry at a time specifically when the United States is trying to do so much around the world, whether it be Afghanistan or elsewhere.

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: Absolutely. Ambassador Rapp explained it again. We, of course, from the -- from the office of the prosecutor's perspective, we respect entirely the decision of the Obama administration, but it's true that we have a lot of confidence in the U.S. national system, as a national judiciary, as we see it functioning, so we have to explain maybe better and better again to the U.S. how we are functioning, how we only step in when the national judiciary are not doing their jobs.

We're stepping in, in the case of the Sudan, which has not done one trial for the massive crimes committed in the last 10 years. So our interventions are really about very, very massive crimes, and we want to reassure the U.S. that this prosecutor, their prosecutor we have, Prosecutor Moreno Ocampo, has proven to be not a frivolous prosecutor at all.

AMANPOUR: OK, on that note, let me play something from Judge Goldstone, Richard Goldstone, who was the first prosecutor of one of these first tribunals, the one for former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Listen.


JUDGE RICHARD GOLDSTONE, FORMER CHIEF PROSECUTOR OF THE UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL: But I think what's really important is that double standards need to stop. It's really unfair that international criminal justice only -- only involves the smaller, weaker -- weaker powers. I think it's very important for that reason that the United States should become much more active and much more involved in the International Criminal Court.


AMANPOUR: Well, we've been debating the U.S. role, and we've been talking about that, but also what he's talking about, weaker powers, there is a perception that it is just Africa that is being targeted at the moment. Those are the -- the four that you have, that you want to prosecute right now. Do you have a sort of a credibility gap, in terms of who you're targeting?

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: No, we are very proud of what we're doing. We think that the most serious crimes under our jurisdiction in the last -- in the last few years have been committed in the countries where we have intervened. The Sudan, Uganda, Joseph Kony has committed unspeakable atrocities, unspeakable sexual violence in Uganda for years. He's the kind of person who did not abduct one or two girls for his troops. He abducted entire boarding schools.

Bosco Ntaganda, we talked about him earlier.

AMANPOUR: You called him "The Terminator."

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: "The Terminator." He started in one region of the Congo, in Ituri. We issued an arrest warrant. He was not arrested. People started negotiating with him. Now he rearmed, he regrouped, and he's in the other province, the Kivus, committing unspeakable sexual atrocities. And Secretary of State Clinton has really insisted already numerous times with the Congolese authorities that he should be arrested.

So we feel that we are intervening when the victims need the court to do something for them. And we feel very comfortable about it. If tomorrow there are crimes committed again in Africa against victims, we will intervene again in Africa.

We have no doubt about that, Kenya is probably -- could probably our next case. And all the Kenyans want us to come and help them to prevent violence in a few years in Kenya, so we're with them.

AMANPOUR: On that note, Beatrice Le Fraper, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.

LE FRAPER DU HELLEN: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: And to see some incredible photographs bearing witness to some of the profound tragedies facing the ICC prosecutors, visit

And next, our "Post-Script." From one of the poorest nations on Earth, a vote for justice. We'll tell you how.




AMANPOUR: And now our "Post-Script." On Tuesday, the International Criminal Court got a new member, Bangladesh. It's the first nation in South Asia to ratify the treaty and the 111th country in the world overall.

Now, that leaves 81 nations that have not ratified the treaty, among them, of course, the United States. This conversation will continue online on and on our Web site,, so please join us there.

And that's it for now. Thank you for watching. And for all of us here, goodbye from New York.