In 2019, US Banned Visas For Int’l Criminal Court Personnel Probing War Crimes

Darren.Woon

The United States will impose visa bans on the International Criminal Court personnel investigating possible war crimes.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in March 2019 that the United States would impose visa bans on International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel investigating possible war crimes by U.S. forces or allies, according to Reuters.

The Trump administration previously threatened to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan in 2018, but the court, an independent and impartial institution, responded that it would continue to do its work “undeterred.”

“I’m announcing a policy of U.S. visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel,” Pompeo said during the March news conference in Washington.

“These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” he continued. “These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts. We’re prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course.”

Human Rights Watch called the action a “thuggish attempt to penalize investigators” at the court.

“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 Prascow, said.

An ICC prosecutor requested authorization from judges to begin an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan since May 1, 2003 in November 2017. Judges are currently reviewing all materials submitted by the prosecutor, and must decide whether an investigation is warranted.

The ICC is composed of 123 member states, including the entire European Union, and was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes, genocide, or crimes against humanity when a country is unable or unwilling to prosecute perpetrators. The United States, China, and Russia are not members.

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