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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, September 20, 2002
    Walking home in the early twilight the cafes and restaurants are busy, the video emporium a mixture of mums, dads and little children, spiky-haired students and giggly teens, the roads in transition between late-office workers and early-clubbers in taxis. In a quieter corner a woman with a holdall full of papers crouches by a wall. I look more closely to see what she's doing; and she, hearing my footsteps, looks nervously around. She's putting up a poster advertising a meeting of the Merseyside Stop the War Coalition. I give her a reassuring look; after all, in the scale of things the illegal activity she's currently involved in is minute compared to that being considered by Bush'n'Blair.

    Of course, in politicians' hands the term 'illegal' becomes slippery. There is a new system of international justice, which came about with the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), but it is under attack from the USA. They are trying to ensure that US nationals are exempt from ICC jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    The ICC will investigate and prosecute people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The USA is attacking this new system of international justice by pressing states around the world to enter into impunity agreements not to surrender US nationals to the ICC. In many cases the US government is threatening to withdraw military assistance from countries that will not agree.

    Amnesty International say that such agreements are unlawful under international law. They threaten to undermine international efforts to stop criminals ever again planning and committing the worst crimes known to humanity.

    The contrast with rhetoric currently emerging from Washington could not be greater. I'm still naive enough to be shocked by the deceitfulness at play. Signed Amnesty's online petition in anger. Hope that nervous young woman gets a good attendence at her meeting.