US Threatens Anyone Behind ICC Probe Into Its Staff With Visa Restrictions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

The United States will impose visa restrictions on people responsible for any International Criminal Court probe, a move aimed at preventing actions against US and allies in Afghanistan, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday. He said ICC judges and prosecutors would be banned from coming to the U.S., their assets in USA jurisdictions frozen and they would face prosecution in the United States.

Washington took the first step on Friday with Pompeo's announcement.

"The ICC is attacking America's rule of law", Pompeo told reporters.

"These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allies' personnel, including Israelis", the secretary of state added. He said the policy had already taken effect, but declined to say who had been restricted or would face future restrictions.

"We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation". "This includes persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation".

The secretary of state said the USA had declined to join the ICC "because of its broad unaccountable prosecutorial powers" and the threat it proposes to American national sovereignty.

He appeared to be referring in particular to requests for investigations with regards to USA military actions in Afghanistan.

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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.

Human Rights Watch called the announcement a "thuggish attempt to penalise investigators" at the court.

Judges are reviewing all material submitted by the prosecutor, and must decide whether or not to authorise an investigation.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC". "Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked".

Similar measures will be taken against any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans, he said.

"Secretary Pompeo's remarks reflect this Administration's view that worldwide law matters only when it is aligned with USA national interests".

The ICC came into being in 2002 with over 120 members, including most European nations. Major powers, including the United States, China and Russian Federation, are not members.

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