White House To Threaten Sanctions To International Criminal Court Over War Crime Investigation

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The United States plans to adapt a hostile stance against the International Criminal Court as the Hague-based court seeks to open a formal investigation into allegations of war crimes committed by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

National security adviser John Bolton will assert the U.S. opposition to the ICC probe in a speech to a conservative group in Washington on Monday. The address will be Bolton’s first since joining President Donald Trump’s White House.

In a draft of the speech seen by Reuters, Bolton will say that the United States will use all means necessary to protect its citizens and allies from unjust prosecution by what the text called as illegitimate court.

Bolton will insist that the Trump administration will fight back if the ICC takes formal measures to open probes into the conduct of U.S. service personnel and intelligence professionals during the Afghanistan war.

The United States may also negotiate for more binding and bilateral agreements that will prevent nations from surrendering Americans to the ICC.

The court considers launching an official investigation after receiving 1.17 million allegations from Afghans that claim of atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban, warlords and local security, and the US-led coalition.

White House Against ICC Probe
Featured image credit: Alex Wong Getty Images

If the ICC probe proceeds, the White House will consider banning the entry of judges and prosecutors into the United States, and placing sanctions on their funds in the U.S. financial system. They will also be prosecuted in the American court system.

“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us,” the draft reads.

The speech will also announce the White House’s plan to close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington over concerns of Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.

This is not the first time that the United States has taken a hostile approach to ICC. President George W. Bush also refused to ratify the Rome treaty that underpin the tribunal when it was established in 2002.

Several other major countries including Russia also made it clear that they do not have intentions to cooperate with the ICC, and believe they do not have legal obligations to the court’s decision.

The ICC was established with the aim of holding accountable the perpetrators of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes.