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Re: [casi] Appeal

Dear Dirk,

Just in between .....

While composing (late at night/early at morning MET) an answer to your
latest message on CASI, just this has arrived on my desk which I think could
be of interest for you and the list.

Excerpt (full text below):

"In a move that has provoked outrage from human-rights groups here, US
Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked a federal appeals court in effect
to nullify a 214-year-old law that has provided foreign victims of serious
abuses access to US courts for redress."

Now put this together with the Belgian war crime complaints against USUK.
--> See also: Verhofstadt passes complaints onto/under US jurisdiction.

And what will we have then ?

The most predictable.

Na goed, maar dit is helemal niet zo erg, denk ik.
Dat hadden wij ook vroeger:

Je weet:

"Héél Gallië?
Nee, een klein dorp bleef dapper weerstand bieden aan de overheersers en
maakte het leven van de XXX in de omringende legerplaatsen bepaald niet

Keep ears pricked.



Villagers vs oil giant: Ashcroft to the rescue

By Jim Lobe

05/17/03: (Inter Press Service) WASHINGTON - In a move that has provoked
outrage from human-rights groups here, US Attorney General John Ashcroft has
asked a federal appeals court in effect to nullify a 214-year-old law that
has provided foreign victims of serious abuses access to US courts for

Ashcroft's Justice Department has filed a "friend of the court" (amicus
curiae) on behalf of California-based oil giant Unocal in a civil case
brought by Myanmese villagers who claimed that the company was responsible
for serious abuses committed by army troops who provided security for a
company project.

But the department's brief was not limited to defending the company against
the plaintiffs. Instead, the document, which was submitted last week to the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California, asked the court to reinterpret
the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) in a way that would deny victims the
right to sue in US courts for abuses committed overseas.

"This is a craven attempt to protect human-rights abusers at the expense of
victims," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human
Rights Watch (HRW). "The Bush administration is trying to overturn a
long-standing judicial precedent that has been very important in the
protection of human rights."

Other rights activists agreed. "The brief is a broadside attack designed to
wipe the law off the books," said Elisa Massimino, director of the
Washington office of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (LCHR), while
Terry Collingsworth, director of the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF)
and one of the lead lawyers in the Myanmar case, called the move "shocking".

"They're not just saying a bunch of Burmese peasants can't sue a US oil
company," said Tom Malinowski, director of HRW's Washington office. "They're
saying Holocaust survivors were wrong to have sued German companies for
enslavement during World War II, and that victims of genocide in Bosnia were
wrong to try [Serb leader Radavan] Karadzic in US courts. I don't think this
administration wants to be seen as denying victims rights in these cases."

ATCA, which was enacted by the first US Congress as a tool for piracy on the
high seas, permits non-citizens to sue foreign and domestic individuals or
companies in the United States for abuses "committed in violation of the law
of nations or a treaty of the United States".

Since 1980, the act has been used successfully by victims of abuses
committed by foreign governments and militaries overseas against individual
defendants who were served with notice while living or visiting in the
United States.

The first case was brought by the father and sister of Joel Filartiga, a
17-year-old Paraguayan who was kidnapped and tortured to death by a
Paraguayan police officer who subsequently came to the United States. In
that case, another appeals court ruled that ATCA permitted victims to pursue
claims based on violations of international human-rights law.

Subsequent cases have been brought against national leaders, such as former
Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, and senior army officers from
Guatemala, Indonesia, Argentina, Ethiopia and El Salvador, among other
countries. While damages have been awarded in almost all those cases, they
have rarely been collected, primarily because defendants fled the United
States once they received legal notice.

Lawyers began bringing cases against US and foreign corporations - usually
involving, as in the Unocal case, alleged abuses committed by foreign armies
or police that provided security for the companies - under ATCA in 1993.
About 25 such cases have since been filed, although most of them have been
dismissed by the courts.

The most successful have been brought by survivors of the Nazi Holocaust
against foreign companies and banks, which rejected their efforts at
recovering their money or insurance claims after World War II. While the
case was never fully tried, it helped induce Swiss banks to negotiate
settlements worth more than US$1 billion.

The Unocal case was originally filed in 1996. Last September, the Ninth
Circuit Court overturned the dismissal of a trial-court judge and ruled that
the company could be sued for such abuses as forced labor, rape and murder
committed by Myanmese soldiers guarding the Yadana gas pipeline, if
plaintiffs produced evidence showing that the company knew about and
benefited directly from the troops' conduct.

In its brief, the Justice Department was far less concerned about the
specific case than about all litigation under ATCA, which, it said, "has
been commandeered and transformed into a font of causes of action permitting
aliens to bring human rights claims in United States courts, even when the
disputes are wholly between foreign nationals and when the alleged injuries
occurred in a foreign country, often with no connection whatsoever with the
United States".

The brief said that ATCA could not be used as a basis to file civil cases
and that victims should sue under other laws; that the "law of nations"
covered by the act did not include international human-rights treaties; and
that abuses committed outside the United States should not be covered by the

"Although [ATCA] is somewhat of a historical relic today, that is no basis
for transforming it into an untethered grant of authority to the courts to
establish and enforce (through money damage actions) precepts of
international law regarding disputes arising in foreign countries," the
brief said.

Moreover, it warned, the use of the act "bears serious implications for our
current war against terrorism, and permits [ATCA] claims to be easily
asserted against our allies in that war". In that respect, it "raises
significant potential for serious interference with important foreign-policy

But human-rights activists pointed out that if US foreign-policy interests
were at risk, the State Department always has the option of intervening in
an ATCA case - as it did last summer when it asked a judge to dismiss a case
brought by plaintiffs from the Indonesian province of Aceh against oil giant

Indeed, the State Department was explicitly asked to comment on the
foreign-policy implications of the Myanmar case and reportedly prepared a
letter that said it had no problems with the action proceeding. But the
Justice Department, which represents the rest of the government, failed to
deliver the letter and instead filed its own brief, which makes no reference
to a State Department position.

"I don't think this has anything to do with the war on terror," said
Malinowski. "I think this is motivated by a very hardcore ideological
resistance within the Justice Department to the whole concept of
international law being enforced. The notion that international norms are
enforceable by anyone is repugnant to some in the Justice Department."

Collingsworth agreed that the move contradicted the avowed aim of the
administration of President George W Bush to end terrorism. "Particularly
today, with all this talk of the war on terror, to remove one of the few
tools we have to address human-rights violations is the epitome of
hypocrisy," he said, adding that he thought the Ninth Circuit Court would
reject Ashcroft's arguments. "The Department of Justice filed the almost
identical brief in the Marcos case in the late 1980s, and it was rejected."

(Inter Press Service)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dirk Adriaensens" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sonntag, 18. Mai 2003 23:53
Subject: [casi] Appeal

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Dear Andreas,

thank you very much for your message.
We are launching an international appeal to put pressure on the Belgian
Government to not hand over the Franks-case to the US authorities.
You can read it in the attached file. I didn't post it on the CASI-list yet.
The Belgian Government is afraid of the US, that's quite clear.
We really hope (but it's idle hope, I fear) that Franks could be tried in
If you want to read the whole complaint of 60 pages, you can find it in
French here: , and . And that's why I haven't posted the
complaint to CASI: most of the members don't understand French. It really
should be translated in English, so that international organisations can
make use of it. I see you speak and understand many languages. Do you know
someone who could translate this complaint? I thing it is very important
that not only the "victors" of this war write the history. The world should
never forget that this war was not clean at all.

This is a very short answer, I know. But if you have any further questions,
please feel free to write me.

Justice for the victims of the US Army :
Please get a signature urgently !

18 Iraqis and 2 Jordanians just introduced a case in Brussels against
general Franks, head of the US Army in Iraq. Based on the law of "universal
jurisdiction", characteristic of the Belgian law concerning genocide and war

This action provoked great enthusiasm among the international public
opinion. Hundreds of messages are sent to Stop USA Brussels, coordinator of
the case.

But next week, immediately after the local elections, the Belgian government
is preparing to send the case to... Washington, pretending that US Justice
would be equitable ! Bush would be the judge of Bush! This would mean
assassinate the victims twice.

This only chance to save this case is to organize immediately a strong
international pressure. So we ask to each of you to mobilize and get
urgently one big personality signing this Appeal below : artists,
intellectuals, sportsmen, academicians, politicians, humanitarians, every
sort of well known personalities.

Defending Justice against the powerful = also defend the next countries
threatened by Bush.

Concretely, please send as soon as possible the signature (s) of the
personality (ies) that you can get to :
Stop USA International Secretariat
Full text of the accusation on:

*             *                *

Court case against General Franks in Brussels

No impunity for war crimes committed by U.S. troops in Iraq

Twenty victims of war crimes committed by U.S. troops during the recent war
against Iraq are filing charges before the federal prosecutor of Belgium for
violations of International Humanitarian Law.

The complaint is directed against soldiers - who are not identified at this
stage - who have committed war crimes. It mentions General Tommy Franks in
particular for ordering war crimes and for not preventing others from
committing them or for providing protection to the perpetrators.

The plaintiffs have been seriously injured or have lost relatives as the
result of:

* the use of cluster bombs
* attacks on the civilian population including journalists
* acts of aggression against health services and other Iraqi infrastructure
* looting protected by or under orders from the U.S. army.

The plaintiffs and their relatives likewise have reason to fear the
devastating effects of depleted uranium munitions used by the U.S. army.
Their effects have already been highlighted in the previous wars against
Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

Millions of demonstrators throughout the world have voiced their opposition
to the war on Iraq. Opinion polls showed that everywhere, between 70 and 80%
of the population condemned this war of aggression.

In defiance of the people's will, the Bush administration violated
international law by attacking Iraq without the permission of the Security
Council and refusing to respect the ban on the use of force included in the
UN Charter. In the field, U.S. troops also committed many war crimes, as
attested by many sources.

The plaintiffs demand an independent inquiry to identify those responsible
for the war crimes of which they were victims. They are also asking for
those guilty to be brought to justice.

The complaint was filed in Brussels on the basis of the Belgian law on
"universal jurisdiction" as amended on May 7, 2003. The law, as amended,
gives the Belgian government the option of filing a case before the
International Criminal Court (ICC) or forwarding it to the country of origin
of the accused.

The United States, however, has not ratified the Statutes of the ICC, thus
rendering a transfer to this court impossible. As for referring the case to
the courts of the country of origin, the law demands that the latter afford
guarantees of impartiality. That is not the case with American law courts
for the moment for a number of reasons:

1. As soon as the possibility of filing charges was announced, the
spokesperson of the State Department demanded the intervention of the
Belgian government to prevent the judiciary from investigating the case.

2. The attitude of the Bush administration clearly shows there is no
guarantee that the United States executive would not exercise the same type
of pressure on the courts of the country. It should be recalled that this
same administration refuses the prisoners detained in Guantanamo any kind of
legal status, has set up special secret courts to try people accused of "
terrorism " and detains hundreds of foreigners for unlimited periods and
without due process. It has this shown its intention to intervene in
judicial procedure and its total lack of respect for the most basic rights
of the defens e.

3. Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York has introduced a bill to forbid all
collaboration with any state trying to exercise universal jurisdiction, and
in particular with Belgium.

The victims' testimonies have been documented by doctor Colette Moulaert and
doctor Geert Van Moorter, who were on a humanitarian mission for the NGO
Medical Aid for the Third World and stayed in Baghdad throughout the
offensive. The Coordination STOP USA, which was active against the war in
Belgium, will support the plaintiffs and will provide information on the
case worldwide.

International appeal :
No Impunity for War Crimes committed by U.S. Troops in Iraq!

The undersigned consider:

* That U.S. Armed Forces should not remain unpunished if they have committed
crimes during the war on Iraq.
* That it is important for an independent inquiry to investigate the facts
mentioned by the plaintiffs, for civil and criminal responsibilities to be
established and for the victims to receive a reasonable compensation.
* That U.S. courts do not at the present time provide sufficient guarantees
of impartiality in this case.
* That an inquiry by the International Criminal Court is impossible, as the
U.S. has not ratified its Statutes.
* That consequently, the victims have no other option but to approach the
jurisdiction of a third country, in this case Belgium.

The undersigned call on the Belgian government not to give in to the
diplomatic pressure of the U.S. and not to hinder the judicial process by
forwarding the case to the U.S.

I sign:

In the name of my organisation:



On my own behalf:




Please send your signature only to

This appeal is coordinated by STOP USA International
53 Chaussée de Haecht, 1210 Brussels.

Full text of the accusation on:

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