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ICC 'Undeterred' by US Sanctions Threats

12 Sep 2018, 01:05 GMT+10

The International Criminal Court says it will continue to conduct its business as usual one day after the United States threatened to impose sanctions on ICC officials if the court investigated U.S. activities in Afghanistan

A statement Tuesday from The Hague based court said, 'The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law.'

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Monday the U.S. would refuse to cooperate 'in any way' with the tribunal if it carries out a prospective investigation into allegations of war crimes by U.S. military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan.

Bolton said the court should not have jurisdiction over Americans or people from other nations that never ratified the treaty that created the court in 2002.

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Bolton called the ICC 'fundamentally illegitimate' and an 'assault on the constitutional rights of the United States.'

He said the United States does not oppose holding war criminals accountable, but rather they should 'face charges by sovereign national governments' if crimes are alleged.

Bolton said if the ICC carries out the investigation of U.S. military actions in Afghanistan, the United States would ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the country, freeze any funds they have in U.S. financial institutions and attempt to prosecute them in U.S. courts.

'Attack on millions of victims'

Last November, the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, said she may investigate what she called 'war crimes by members of the United States armed forces' and 'secret detention facilities in Afghanistan' used by the CIA, particularly in 2003 and 2004. She said the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani network, as well as the Afghan National Security Forces, would also be investigated.

FILE - International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (L) is seen at the trial of Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda at the ICC in the Hague, the Netherlands, Aug. 28, 2018.

The U.S. Defense Department objected to the possible probe and said it was committed to complying with the laws of war.

Amnesty International official Adotei Akwei immediately rebuked the U.S. position, saying its rejection of the ICC's legitimacy 'is an attack on millions of victims and survivors who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law and undermines decades of groundbreaking work by the international community to advance justice.'

Akwei said the U.S. should sign the Rome agreement creating the court and 'support, not impede, its investigations. The ICC prosecutes the most serious crimes under international law: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. Resuming attacks against the court sends a dangerous signal that the United States is hostile to human rights and the rule of law."

The ICC was designed to be permanent and independent of national governments as it investigated war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. But Bolton said the ICC has been 'ineffective' and 'unaccountable.'

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