Home News U.S. allies see worrying turn in presidential waiver ruling

U.S. allies see worrying turn in presidential waiver ruling

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America’s allies have long been anxiously watching the country’s upcoming election. Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court Grant unprecedented expansion By granting the president legal immunity and stripping the U.S. executive power, analysts in some countries have become more concerned about the reliability of U.S. power.

In Asia and Europe, allied leaders have grown accustomed to dealing with threats from authoritarian leaders in Russia, North Korea and China, and the prospect that they might also have to deal with an unfettered American president is unsettling.

“If the president of the United States is not subject to criminal law, if he enjoys this level of criminal immunity, other allied leaders cannot trust the United States,” he said. Komamura KeigoProfessor of law at Keio University in Tokyo. “We cannot maintain a stable national security relationship.”

Mr. Komamura added that the Supreme Court ruling now gave the impression that the president of the United States was above the law. “It may be disrespectful to the United States, but it is no different from what Xi Jinping is doing in China,” he said. “The rule of law has become the rule of power.”

While some countries grant their leaders limited immunity while in office, Japan, South Korea, Australia and the United Kingdom — America’s closest allies around the world — do not offer the sweeping protection the Supreme Court granted in its ruling this week.

The court’s decision to grant the president immunity from criminal prosecution for official conduct — which the court itself defined vaguely — was “not consistent with global norms,” Rosalind DixonProfessor of law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. “I think what’s happening in the United States in terms of court decisions and presidential elections should be of serious concern to all of America’s allies.”

In South Korea, there is virtually no legal protection against criminal prosecution for political leaders once they leave office — and presidents serve only one term. Four of the past eight former presidents have been convicted. Imprisoned After leaving office, they resigned due to corruption and other crimes committed before and during their tenure.

“I think many Koreans are proud that no one is above the law, not even the president.” Ramon Pacheco PardoHe is a professor of international relations at King’s College London and director of Korean studies at the Institute of Political Science at the Free University of Brussels. “But in the United States, the president seems to be produced differently from others.”

Despite this, the frequency of criminal prosecutions of South Korean officials has led to Political polarizationSome saw the punishments as an act of justice, while others saw them as nothing more than political revenge orchestrated by the new president.

South Korean presidents enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution while in office, except for “rebellion or treason.” That provision was deliberately omitted from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ruled that former President Donald J. Trump is entitled to immunity from prosecution for trying to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In Japan, constitution Mr Komamura said the clause gives immunity from arrest to all members of Japan’s parliament while in office, but not criminal prosecution. The prime minister must be a member of parliament to be protected by the clause.

One of the biggest scandals in Japan in the 1970s was the Bribery allegations for accepting a $1.6 million offer from Lockheed to buy aircraft for All Nippon Airways, Japan’s largest airline.

Even in countries where there is some immunity for political leaders, it is often narrowly defined. In the UK, members of Parliament generally enjoy legal protection from prosecution for political speech, but they are not immune from the criminal laws that govern the public.

this Police fines Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, attended a lockdown party in Downing Street while in office, violating coronavirus laws his cabinet had put in place during the pandemic.

Even where legal immunity is more strictly defined, the law may be less important than political culture.

In Malaysia, although executive immunity is less sweeping than that just granted to the president by the U.S. Supreme Court, few leaders are brought to court despite widespread corruption because of a culture of impunity.

For many years, former Prime Minister Najib Razak Escaped criminal conviction in multi-billion dollar corruption scandalBecause he controls the country’s courts and media.

After the opposition came to power in 2018, he was found guilty In 2020, he was sentenced to up to 12 years in prison on seven counts of corruption. However, earlier this year, his sentence Halvingand his fine was reduced to a quarter of its original amount by the National Pardons Board, leading to widespread speculation that he was about to receive a pardon from the king.

“Maybe Trump can get a royal pardon like his Malaysian buddy Najib,” one user X posted on Monday.

But whether legal prosecutions can stop politicians determined to stay in power is another question.

In Israel, all members of parliament, including the prime minister, enjoy absolute immunity from prosecution for acts committed while performing their official duties, a protection not dissimilar to that defined by U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

That did not stop the prosecution. be accused He was ousted nearly five years ago on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, but has stubbornly clung to his position. Expanding its power over the country’s courts has sparked massive protests in Israel.

In all this, he departed from the precedent set by his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who Step down He was at the center of a corruption investigation at the time.

Adam ShinerThe Supreme Court ruling essentially introduced the same immunity in the United States that Israeli leaders have enjoyed since 1951, said Reichman University law professor in Tel Aviv. But he said U.S. presidents have enjoyed de facto immunity for decades.

“After they left office, no one talked about prosecuting them,” Mr. Shinar said. The closest thing was a discussion about whether Richard Nixon would be prosecuted for the Watergate scandal, but his successor, Gerald Ford, pardoned him before any trial.

The new U.S. court ruling has taken on particular urgency abroad, in large part because of the possibility that Trump could become president again.

Shinar said the reaction to the Supreme Court ruling has been more intense than in other eras because of Trump’s disregard for legal or political norms, as well as a growing political divide and a fundamental distrust of the U.S. government.

“If this decision had been made in the 1950s under President Eisenhower, would we be so concerned or angry? Probably not,” he said. “If we no longer trust our politicians to do good things, then we need something else to step in, like the criminal justice system.”

He added: “But if our trust in political institutions is declining while politicians’ immunity is growing, then there is a problem.”

Choi Sang-hoon Reporting from Seoul, Tashini Sukumaran From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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