International Criminal Court threatened with USA sanctions

Cheryl Sanders
September 11, 2018

In his first public address since joining the Trump administration in April, Bolton called the court "antithetical to our nation's ideals" and pledged to "use any means necessary" to protect the United States and its allies from "unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court".

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton called the Hague-based rights body "unaccountable" and "outright dangerous" to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of U.S. service members would be "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation".

"Any U.S. action to scuttle ICC inquiries on Afghanistan and Palestine would demonstrate that the administration was more concerned with coddling serial rights abusers - and deflecting scrutiny of U.S. conduct in Afghanistan - than supporting impartial justice", said Human Rights Watch.

The Trump administration's decision to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) office in Washington, DC is "denying the Palestinians as people" and further jeopardising the peace process, analysts warn.

Afghan rights workers are warning that the USA national security adviser's blistering attack on the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes allegations will strengthen a climate of impunity in Afghanistan, prolong the war and embolden those carrying out acts of violence.

The move comes a day after the US closed the Palestinian de facto embassy in Washington because of its leaders' refusal to enter peace talks with Israel.

The court angered the United States by revealing it wanted to investigate American servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan.

"Americans can rest assured that the United States will not provide any form of legitimacy or support to this body", Bolton said in prepared remarks at an event organized by the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C.

Bolton remained firm that the only institution USA recognised was its constitution and will not allow ICC to interfere with its affairs or those of her allies.

The United States did not ratify the Rome treaty that established the International Criminal Court in 2002, with then-president George W Bush opposed to the court.

This follows moves by President Donald Trump to end funding for the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, slash USA aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza and cut funding to hospitals in Jerusalem that serve Palestinians.

Bolton said the main objection of President Donald Trump's administration is to the idea that the ICC could have higher authority than the US Constitution and US sovereignty.

The ICC has opened investigations into situations in nine countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Uganda; Central African Republic (2 situations); Darfur, Sudan; Kenya; Libya; Ivory Coast; Mali; and Georgia.

The global court is considering prosecuting USA servicemen for allegedly abusing detainees in Afghanistan. He also said the US would consider restrictions against ICC lawyers or officials involved in efforts to investigate Americans. Their leadership has already roundly rejected those moves, saying the USA has lost its role as a peacemaker because of it.

Bolton said the US would "not sit quietly" if the ICC came after it, Israel or other USA allies.

In recent weeks, the United States has cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians as well as cancelled its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. "Our rights are not for sale and we will block any attempts at bullying and blackmailing us to forgo our legitimate and internationally endorsed rights", Zomlot said. "Palestinian are disappointed. They have been let down by their occupation, the global community, and their own leaders".

"We will not cooperate with the ICC".

"We have been notified by a U.S. official of their decision to close the Palestinian Mission to the USA", said chief negotiator Saeb Erekat. Bush's first term, when Mr. Bolton was an under secretary of state and later ambassador to the United Nations.

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