Published: Sat, March 16, 2019

U.S. denying visas to International Criminal Court staff

U.S. denying visas to International Criminal Court staff

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by law could not specifically name individuals who will be denied visa entry, but he said other restrictions could be added if the ICC persists in the investigation that began in 2017.

The United States announced its first sanctions against the International Criminal Court Friday, threatening visa restrictions for anyone involved in a potential probe of American soldiers' actions in Afghanistan.

"I'm announcing a policy of USA visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel", Pompeo said.

The visa restrictions would apply to any ICC employee who takes or has taken action "to request or further such an investigation", Pompeo said.

Bolton questioned the legitimacy of The Hague-based court, its mission and mandate, warned that the USA would thwart any attempt by its prosecutors to open investigations into Americans for alleged war crimes and other abuses in conflicts in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

Pompeo also warned about potential economic sanctions "if the ICC does not change its course".

The ICC said in response it would continue its "independent work, undeterred, in accordance with its mandate and the overarching principle of the rule of law".

"Throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC's investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under worldwide law". The Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israel for alleged human rights abuses.

The court, which sits in The Hague, responded that it was an independent and impartial institution and would continue to do its work "undeterred" by Washington's actions.

But rather than targeting global criminals, the Trump administration has set its sights on the ICC-an impartial judicial body that aims to promote accountability under worldwide law by probing and prosecuting crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch was not happy by the Trump Admsinstatrion's latest move, calling it "thuggish".

James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said Pompeo's remarks reflected the administration's view that worldwide law matters "only when it is aligned with U.S. national interests".

USA officials have long regarded the Netherlands-based ICC with hostility, arguing that American courts are capable of handling any allegations against US forces and questioning the motives of an global court.

The United States has never been a member of the ICC.

The court has been hobbled by refusal of the US, Russia, China and other major nations to join.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton unveils the Trump Administration's Africa Strategy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, December 13, 2018.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC".

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