American Service-Members' Protection Act
The American Service-Members' Protection Act (ASPA, Title 2 of Pub.L. 107–206, H.R. 4775, 116 Stat. 820, enacted August 2, 2002) is a United States federal law that aims "to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party." Introduced by US Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX) it was an amendment to the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States (H.R. 4775). The bill was signed into law by George W. Bush on August 2, 2002.
ASPA authorizes the President to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court”. This authorization has led the act to be nicknamed The Hague Invasion Act, because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through an invasion of The Hague, Netherlands, the seat of several international criminal courts and of the Dutch government.
The Act prohibits federal, state and local governments and agencies (including courts and law enforcement agencies) from assisting the Court. For example, it prohibits the extradition of any person from the United States to the Court; it prohibits the transfer of classified national security information and law enforcement information to the Court; and it prohibits agents of the Court from conducting investigations in the United States.
The Act also prohibits U.S. military aid to countries that are party to the Court. However, exceptions are allowed for aid to NATO members, major non-NATO allies, Taiwan, and countries which have entered into “Article 98 agreements”, agreeing not to hand over U.S. nationals to the Court. The President may waive this prohibition if he determines that to do so is “important to the national interest of the United States”.
The Dutch government reacted mildly to this legislation, which entitled the American president to violate Dutch sovereignty by force without Congressional approval. The Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp suggested in July 2009 that if the Netherlands should accept previous inmates of Guantanamo Bay the The Hague Invasion Act should be taken into account in the negotiations.
- Coalition of the International Criminal Court, "US Congress Passes Anti-ICC "Hague Invasion Act"". 26 July 2002. Accessed 6 March 2013.
- Govtrack, "H.R. 4775 (107th): 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States". Accessed 6 March 2013.
- Human Rights Watch, “U.S.: 'Hague Invasion Act' Becomes Law”. 3 August 2002. Accessed 8 January 2007.
- John Sutherland, “Who are America's real enemies?”. The Guardian, 8 July 2002. Accessed 8 January 2007.
- (Dutch) "Van de Camp: VS moet eerst strafhof erkennen". De Telegraaf. 18 July 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
- Text of the American Service-Members' Protection Act: htm. Accessed 3 March 2008.
- HR4775 information at the Library of Congress. Accessed 8 January 2007.
- Transcript of Helms's introduction of the amendment at the Library of Congress. Accessed 8 January 2007.
- Jesse Helms, “Helms Introduces Amendment to Protect Servicemen From International Criminal Court” (Press Release). 26 September 2001. Accessed 8 January 2007.