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U.S. to deny visas for ICC members investigating alleged war crimes

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

WASHINGTON – The United States has announced it will revoke or deny visas to members of the International Criminal Court involved in investigating the actions of US troops in Afghanistan or other countries.

The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Washington was prepared to take further steps, including economic sanctions, if the war crimes court goes ahead with any investigations of US or allied personnel.

“The ICC is attacking America’s rule of law,” Pompeo told reporters. “It’s not too late for the court to change course and we urge that it do so immediately.”

The United States has never joined the ICC, where a prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, asked judges in November 2017 for authorization to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

Pompeo’s announcement of visa restrictions was the first concrete action taken by the US against the ICC since the White House threatened reprisals against the Hague-based body in September.

“I’m announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel,” he said.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” he added.

Richard Dicker, the international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said the US move “is a naked attempt to bully judges and impede justice for victims in Afghanistan” and “blatant contempt for the rule of law”.

The United States is not a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute), which founded the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 as a permanent international criminal court to “bring to justice the perpetrators of the worst crimes known to humankind – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide”, when national courts are unable or unwilling to do so.

In 2002, the United States, under the administration of former President George W. Bush, established the ‘American Service-Members’ Protection Act’ which authorizes U.S. presidents to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.”

As of January 2019, 123 states are members of ICC, including the entire European Union.

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