US President Donald Trump authorises economic sanctions, travel restrictions against ICC officials

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Published: June 11, 2020 11:48 PM

Since assuming office, Trump has withdrawn from several international treaties like the Paris climate deal, the Iranian nuclear deal and arms control treaties with Russia. He has also pulled the US out of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Washington, USA, Donald Trump, economic sanctions, travel restrictions, International Criminal Court, ICC, United States of America, United States, USA, visa restrictions, White House, Kayleigh McEnany, Rome Statute, Israel, Paris climate deal, Iran, Iranian nuclear deal, arms control treaty, Russia, UN Human Rights Council, UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, Mike Pompeo, Mark Esper, William Barr, Afghanistan, Robert O'Brien, NATO, Human Rights Watch, PalestinePresident Donald Trump also authorized the expansion of visa restrictions against the family members of the ICC officials, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. (File Image)

President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized economic sanctions and travel restrictions against the International Criminal Court (ICC) officials directly engaged with any effort to investigate or prosecute American personnel without the consent of the United States.

Trump also authorized the expansion of visa restrictions against the family members of the ICC officials, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement.

Noting that the US is not a State Party to the Rome Statute and has repeatedly rejected the ICC’s assertions of jurisdiction over American personnel, she said the court’s actions are an attack on the rights of the American people and threatens to infringe upon its national sovereignty.

“The ICC was established to provide accountability for war crimes, but in practice it has been an unaccountable and ineffective international bureaucracy that targets and threatens US personnel as well as personnel of our allies and partners,” she said.

Despite repeated calls by the US and its allies to reform, the ICC has taken no action to reform itself and continues to pursue politically-motivated investigations against the US and its allies, including Israel, McEnany said.

“We are concerned that adversary nations are manipulating the International Criminal Court by encouraging these allegations against United States personnel. Further, we have strong reason to believe there is corruption and misconduct at the highest levels of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor, calling into question the integrity of its investigation into American service members,” McEnany said.

“As the President’s Executive Order makes clear, the United States will continue to use any means necessary to protect our citizens and our allies from unjust prosecution by the International Criminal Court,” she added.

Since assuming office, Trump has withdrawn from several international treaties like the Paris climate deal, the Iranian nuclear deal and arms control treaties with Russia. He has also pulled the US out of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington would not allow Americans to be threatened by “a kangaroo court.”

The strongly worded slamming of the ICC by Pompeo and his two other Cabinet colleagues, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr, came as President Trump issued the executive order.

Pompeo said that the nightmare of American officials arrested and imprisoned abroad could become reality if the ICC follows through with its ideological crusade against American service members.

“Many of you might recall back in November 2017 the court’s office of the prosecutor announced its intention to investigate our brave warriors for alleged crimes arising from counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan,” he told reporters at a joint news conference with Esper, Barr and the National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

“We cannot, and we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court, and indeed I have a message to many close allies around the world your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries to fight terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside of us,” he said.

The ICC, he said, cannot subject Americans to arrest, prosecution, and jail.

“We have responded the way a responsible nation must by condemning the investigation, by suspending cooperation with the court and denying visas to those most likely responsible for going after our personnel,” Pompeo said.

“In 18 years of operation, the court staffed by nearly 1,000 people secured only four convictions for major crimes despite spending well over USD 1 billion. Nonetheless, the judges of ICC recently brought suit against their own court, seeking a 26 per cent raise from their 180,000 euro tax-free annual salary. That’s about a quarter of USD 1 million US give or take,” he said.

Asserting that the Trump Administration will not allow American citizens who have served the country to be subjected to illegitimate investigations, he said the US expects information about alleged misconduct by its people to be turned over to US authorities so that it can take the appropriate action.

The ICC’s effort to target American servicemen and women and other public servants are unfounded, illegitimate, and make a mockery of justice, O’Brien said.

Referring to the investigation of American servicemen and women in Afghanistan, he said the US has every reason to believe that its adversaries are manipulating the ICC by encouraging these allegations.

In his remarks, Barr alleged that ICC has become in practice little more than a political tool employed by unaccountable international elites.

Reiterating that the US has never consented to the ICC jurisdiction, Barr said that the US is concerned that foreign powers like Russia are also manipulating the ICC in pursuit of their own agenda.

“The measures announced today are an important first step in holding the ICC accountable for exceeding its mandate and violating the sovereignty of the United States. The US government has reason to doubt the honesty of the ICC,” he said.

The Human Rights Watch criticized the US for its latest actions on ICC. “This assault on the ICC is an effort to block victims of serious crimes whether in Afghanistan, Israel or Palestine from seeing justice. Countries that support international justice should publicly oppose this blatant attempt at obstruction,” it said.

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