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Letters to the editor for 6/13

June 13, 2002

Don't 'unsign' rights treaty


To the editor:

Could it actually be that the U.S. will end up on the wrong side of history when it comes to international justice against those who commit terror and ethnic cleansing? Yet sadly, the administration has walked away from the ICC.

The U.S. is considering "unsigning" the International Criminal Court Rome Treaty. This action would be unprecedented; no country has ever revoked its signature from a treaty. Along with setting a bad precedent, by "unsigning" the U.S. would strain relations with allies, lose all negotiating credibility with the court, and lose leverage pertaining to other treaties.

The International Criminal Court will try individual perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity when national courts either cannot or will not.

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In the past, the United States has supported criminal tribunals with limited jurisdiction, like the Nuremberg tribunals for Nazi leaders after WWII. While these tribunals have served U.S. interests, they have shortcomings. They are inconsistent. Milosevic is being prosecuted; Pol Pot was not. And the time it takes to establish ad hoc tribunals hampers their effectiveness. Justice delayed is justice denied. But why in the name of human rights, justice and the war on terrorism are we walking away from this responsible treaty which involves all the nations of the world?

The International Criminal Court treaty makes the protections in the Bill of Rights the international standard for criminal proceedings. Isn't this the standard that we want to demonstrate to the world? Isn't this the kind of justice system we are striving to bring to many parts of the world through freeing Afghanistan from the horror of the Taliban? Isn't this Bill of Rights kind of justice the kind that our young men and women are fighting to protect for us and others who struggle with terrorism and undemocratic governments?

The court will prosecute violations of women's human rights including rape, forced servitude, slavery and gender apartheid. Isn't this what makes us proud of our constitutional system and our freedom? When children are still being sold into slavery in many parts of the world, in Burma, in Sudan, don't you think we need to speak loudly and clearly that such horror must stop and that those who are involved in the present day slave trade must be brought to justice? There were many people of many nations and ethnic groups who died at the World Trade Center. It was the world that day as well as citizens of the U.S.; and all people of the world must be protected from terror and it is the people of the world who must be freed from injustice and violations of human rights.

If the leader of the Free World cannot support international justice for all people in all nations, what kind of a message does that send to people struggling to be free and struggling to enjoy the precious blood-bought rights and freedoms we call the Bill of Rights?

Dr. Raymond Moreland

Hagerstown




Tighten child pornography law


To the editor:

To: The Honorable John M. Prezel

Like me, I'm sure you were extremely disturbed to learn that the United States Supreme Count recently overturned a federal statute that placed important restrictions on the availability of certain types of child pornography and aided law enforcement in the prosecution of child pornography offenders. While we may be appreciative of the constitutional nuances that necessitated this decision, we must encourage the Congress of the United States to revisit this matter in due haste.

Pursuant to that end, I have crafted the resolution (HR585) that calls on Congress to re-examine, modify and enact a statute that both deals with this issue again and passes constitutional muster. Please find the enclosed copy of this resolution.

It is my hope and request that you can schedule this resolution for a vote upon our return to session in June. Anything we can do to encourage congressional action on this issue is, in my opinion, of vital importance.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration of this crucial matter.

Jeffrey W. Coy

Minority Caucus Secretary

Chambersburg, Pa.

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