Pompeo pulls visas for International Criminal Court officials targeting Americans – Washington Examiner

International officials trying to prosecute American military personnel will not be allowed to enter the United States, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday.

“We are determined to protect the American, allied, and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecutions for actions taken to defend our great nation,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department.

Pompeo’s decision puts personal pressure on the International Criminal Court, a European-based tribunal that is trying to investigate whether “war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed” since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. The top diplomat said that the court, which was established by a treaty that the United States voted against, is “attacking America’s rule of law” by second-guessing the government’s existing mechanisms for enforcing a “strict” code of conduct for U.S. troops.

“If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of U.S. personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will be permitted to enter the United States,” he told reporters.

The visa revocation is the latest clash between President Trump’s team and the international court. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the tribunal in 2017 for the authority to launch an investigation into U.S. operations in Afghanistan. She wants to probe potential “war crimes” committed by American military personnel after the invasion, as well as CIA activities “in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan” and around the world. The ICC rejected Pompeo’s rebuke.

“The International Criminal Court is an independent and impartial judicial institution crucial for ensuring accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community,” O-Gon Kwon, a prominent South Korean judge who now serves as president of the ICC’s legislative body, said Friday.

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The U.S. has never ratified the treaty that established the ICC. White House national security adviser John Bolton, who worked under George W. Bush to negotiate roughly 100 agreements to ensure that countries that have submitted to the court’s jurisdiction provide safe passage to any Americans charged by the tribunal, vowed in 2018 not to cooperate with any probe and threatened sanctions against the court officers if they tried to bring a case.

“The International Criminal Court unacceptably concentrates power in the hands of an unchecked executive, who is accountable to no one,” he told the Federalist Society. “If the Court comes after us, Israel, or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly.”

Bolton followed through on that pledge by announcing, in the same address, that the U.S. would close the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s office in Washington due to the PLO’s insistence on agitating for the ICC to investigate Israel. Pompeo picked up that thread on Friday.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to deter allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” Pompeo said.

He hinted that Trump could put financial pressure on the officials if they pursue the cases. “We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course,” Pompeo said.


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