USA bars entry to ICC investigators, says 'attacking America's rule of law'

USA bars entry to ICC investigators, says 'attacking America's rule of law'

The U.S. secretary of state said, "if you are requesting an ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with a situation in Afghanistan, you can not assume you will get a visa to enter the U.S".

"These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allied consent", Pompeo said.

The head of State said he hopes to convince the ICC to change course in Afghanistan from taking action inconsistent with USA views.

The Trump administration in September said that if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan, it would consider banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, sanctioning funds they have there and prosecuting them in U.S. courts.

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

The U.S. national security adviser, John Bolton, at the time warned that "if the court comes after us, Israel, or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly".

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, center, waits on the steps of the International Criminal Court after answering questions of reporters in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, June 25, 2015.

The ICC and its supporters, including human rights groups that denounced Pompeo's announcement, argue that it is needed to prosecute cases when a country fails to do so or does an insufficient job of it.

Bolton questioned the legitimacy of The Hague-based court, its mission and mandate, warned that the USA would thwart any attempt by its prosecutors to open investigations into Americans for alleged war crimes and other abuses in conflicts in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

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"That the administration has chosen visa bans, powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers, to prevent investigation into allegations involving some of the most serious crimes in the world is highly indicative of its culture of disregard for rights abuses".

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

"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.

"We will not cooperate with the ICC". 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".

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

"Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked", the group's Washington director, Andrea Prasow, said, calling on US lawmakers to express support for the court. The court has convicted just eight defendants.

The U.S.is not a party to the ICC, along with other major powers, including Russian Federation and China. Others have quit, including Burundi and the Philippines.

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