US Deny Visas of ICC Personnel Investigating War Crimes

Sergio Conner
March 16, 2019

"We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course", he said, adding: "The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty".

The United States announced on Friday it would deny visas to members of the International Criminal Court involved in investigating alleged was crmes from USA troops in Afghanistan or in other countries.

The visa restrictions would apply to any ICC employee who takes or has taken action "to request or further such an investigation" into allegations against US forces and their allies in Afghanistan that include forced disappearances and torture.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2019.

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

Bolton, a leading critic of the ICC said the Trump administration would impose sanctions on the court and take other measures to hamper its ability to function should it proceed with such probes. He said ICC judges and prosecutors would be banned from coming to the USA, their assets in U.S. jurisdictions frozen and they would face prosecution in the United States.

"We are determined to protect American and allied civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation", he said.

Pompeo said "implementation" of the policy has already begun but he did not provide any details, citing confidentiality surrounding visa applications. The Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israel for alleged human rights abuses.

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"The US government, where possible, takes legal action against those responsible for worldwide crimes", he added, noting that it has supported prosecution of war crimes in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

"Under these measures, we will not interfere with travel to the United Nations for official United Nations purposes", the official said.

Supporters of the court slammed Pompeo's announcement on Friday.

Human Rights Watch called it "a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators" at the ICC.

"The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability", it said.

"Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked", the group's Washington director, Andrea Prasow, said, calling on USA lawmakers to express support for the court.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents three people before the ICC who say they were tortured in Afghanistan, called the decision "misguided and dangerous" and "an unprecedented attempt to skirt global accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day".

Echoing Bolton's broader denunciations of the ICC previous year, Pompeo on Friday highlighted that the United States-under both Democratic and Republican presidents-has refused to join the court for more than two decades "because of its broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers and the threat it poses to American national sovereignty".

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