Trump Administration Attempts to Thwart International Criminal Court Investigators

Cheryl Sanders
March 16, 2019

"I'm announcing a policy of United States visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of USA personnel", Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by law could not specifically name individuals who will be denied visa entry, but he said other restrictions could be added if the ICC persists in the investigation that began in 2017.

Pompeo's announcement came after John Bolton, President Donald Trump's national security adviser and a longtime critic of the ICC, threatened to impose sanctions on court officials in September if they continued to pursue an investigation of potential crimes by USA civilians or military personnel 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.

Human Rights Watch called it "a thuggish attempt to penalize investigators" at the ICC.

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

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

Pompeo slammed the potential investigation an example of "politically motivated prosecutions of Americans".

This appears to come amid a request from an ICC prosecutor to look into potential war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan. The Palestinians have also asked the court to bring cases against Israel.

"The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court", Bolton said.

This past September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to USA national security interests and he threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans. In a statement he said that the court is "non-political and "an independent and impartial judicial institution crucial for ensuring accountability for the gravest crimes under worldwide law".

"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 United States lawmakers to rescind the move and express support for the court.

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

"This announcement is the latest attack on global justice and worldwide institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections".

The United States is among a dozen countries, including China and Russian Federation, that have not ratified the Rome Treaty that created the ICC.

"It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers, and is a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses", it said.

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