USA denying visas to International Criminal Court staff

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at the State Department in Washington

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo answers questions at the State Department in Washington

On Friday at the State Department, Pompeo said he would revoke visas for anyone responsible for for an ICC investigation of USA personnel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced new restrictions regarding probes from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The move is meant to deter a potential investigation by the judicial body into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by United States troops in Afghanistan.

In an unprecedented attack on the global body, charged with judging war crimes and crimes against humanity, the White House threatened its judges or prosecutors in September a year ago with sanctions if they target Americans or Israel.

Pompeo, speaking from the State Department Friday, said the restrictions include "persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation".

Speaking directly to ICC employees, Pompeo said: "If you are responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have or will get a visa or will be permitted to enter the United States".

The secretary of state said visas could also be withheld from ICC personnel involved in conducting probes of USA allies, specifically Israel.

"These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis".

Following up on a threat made last September by hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, Pompeo said Friday that the United States has already begun moving against a handful of employees at the ICC.

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

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

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

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.

"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.

"The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its independent work, undeterred, in accordance with its mandate and the overarching principle of the rule of law", the ICC said.

Human Rights Watch called it "a thuggish attempt to penalise investigators" at the International Criminal Court.

"Attacking worldwide judicial actors for doing their jobs undermines global efforts to hold to account those most responsible for atrocity crimes such as torture and mass murder", Goldston said. The Clinton administration in 2000 signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but had reservations about the scope of the court's jurisdiction and never submitted it for ratification to the Senate, where there was broad bipartisan opposition to what lawmakers saw as a threat to USA sovereignty.

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

"We will not cooperate with the ICC", Bolton said.

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