State Dept. bans International Criminal Court from USA soil

Leroy Wright
March 16, 2019

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 USA forces and their allies in Afghanistan that include forced disappearances and torture.

Pompeo said the new visa restrictions would include "persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation". The US had already moved against some employees of The Hague-based court, Pompeo said, but he declined to say how many or what cases they may have been investigating.

This past September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to US national security interests and he threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans.

The Trump administration threatened in September to block the ICC personnel from entering the United States and even prosecute them if it charges USA military members serving in Afghanistan over war crimes.

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

John Bolton harshly condemned the ICC in one of his first speeches after becoming Trump's national security advisor in September.

In the meantime, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing that the United Nations is studying the potential consequences of the United States' decision to deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel.

Pompeo did not mention potential criminal prosecution of ICC members in his comments.

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The ICC came into being in 2002 with over 120 members, including most European nations.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC".

A State Department official said the United States would allow court officials to travel for meetings to the United Nations headquarters in NY.

"The court is an independent and impartial judicial institution crucial for ensuring accountability for the gravest crimes under global law", the statement said.

James Goldston, the executive director of Open Society Justice Initiative, said the new sanctions would undermine efforts to hold to account those responsible for the worst war crimes. The United States has rejected the ICC since the body was first proposed during the Clinton administration, claiming it would be used by U.S. enemies for politically motivated attacks against Americans serving overseas, especially USA service members.

"Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked", she said, and called on USA lawmakers to rescind the move and express support for the court.

After the court's founding in 2002, Congress passed a law prohibiting USA support for the ICC and also authorizing the government to use all necessary means to repatriate any American citizen detained by the court.

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