San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

U.S. Considers Removing Sanctions

The United States is considering a proposal to remove sanctions against 12 Latin American countries that have not agreed to shield U.S. citizens and officials from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC), in the Netherlands.

Costa Rica is among the sanctioned countries, which have been barred from receiving certain types of aid. Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno said in a statement he is “pleased” the Unites States is considering changing its policy.

Most of the aid currently off-limits to Costa Rica is military aid, which, in Costa Rica’s case, translates to training for the police and Coast Guard since the country does not have an army.

Costa Rica is also ineligible for economic aid through the U.S Economic Support Fund (ESF), aid that is generally destined for social projects. Then-Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar told The Tico Times last year that ESF funds in Costa Rica went toward “trade capacity programs” which included environmental and labor training to prepare the country for an eventual free-trade agreement with the United States (TT, Sept. 9, 2005).

U.S. President George Bush has long been critical of the ICC, and the Bush administration says it opposes the court primarily because U.S. civilians, officials or military could be seized and prosecuted without U.S. consent, potentially for politically motivated reasons.

The ICC, founded in 1998 and in effect since 2002, is an international court of law based on treaties, with jurisdiction only in countries that have agreed to be a part of the court, or over people from those countries.

The court is set up to take on “only the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” such as war crimes, crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity, and the court acts only if a country is “unwilling or unable to genuinely prosecute,” a decision made by the judges of the court, according to the ICC Web site.


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