5 Jun 2003

US says no incentives offered in Pacific deals over the ICC

6:55 pm on 5 June 2003

An official at the American Embassy in Suva says the US has not offered incentives to Pacific nations to gather support for bilateral agreements separating them from the International Criminal Court.

The agreements mean signatories will not hand over each other's nationals to the ICC.

Bilateral deals have been signed by six Pacific nations including Tonga and Tuvalu, and negotiations are currently under way with Fiji.

The Deputy Ambassador to Fiji, Tuvalu and Tonga, Hugh Neighbour, says no financial incentives were offered to signatories.

Mr Neighbour says the agreement is important in the Pacific because it would protect people like General Tommy Franks, who led the war in Iraq.

Mr Neighbour says some people are already trying to bring charges against General Franks and without the bilateral agreements he could not safely holiday in the region.

"Under the ICC, the poor guy could be just sort of be picked up on a secret indictment and sent off to a trial in a court where normal rights of a defendant under the kind of law that our citizens, and citizens in New Zealand and the Pacific Island states enjoy -he wouldn't have the protections"

Mr Neighbour says he is optimistic that an agreement would be concluded with Fiji soon.