United States bars entry of International Criminal Court investigators

Clay Curtis
March 16, 2019

Human rights defenders expressed outrage on Friday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the Trump administration is revoking or denying visas for any International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute USA officials or key allies for potential war crimes.

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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, Friday, March 15, 2019 in Washington.

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

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.

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 ICC, which is located in The Hague, Netherlands, was formed to investigate and prosecute war crimes and other crimes against humanity when national governments were unable to act.

The International Criminal Court is supported by 123 nations, including Switzerland. 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 global law".

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He said he didn't recall specifically writing it, but says he now thinks the "we" he was talking about was the country at large. Strzok waged a similar defense during a contentious public hearing in July of a year ago .

"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.

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

Richard Dicker, worldwide justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it "an outrageous effort to bully the court and deter scrutiny of USA conduct". "Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked".

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, his administration promoted and passed the American Service Members Protection Act, which sought to immunize US troops from potential prosecution by the ICC.

Amnesty International described the move as "the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections".

Similar measures will be taken against any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans, he said.

It said that all states were obliged to prosecute and punish the most serious crimes.

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