News   /   Politics   /   Human Rights   /   Afghanistan   /   EU

ICC shrugs off US threats over Afghan war crimes probe

US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, speaks to the Federalist Society in Washington DC on September 10, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has firmly dismissed a threat of sanctions against it by US National Security Adviser John Bolton in case it probes possible US war crimes in Afghanistan, declaring that it will continue its work “undeterred.”

“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,” the ICC announced in a Tuesday statement, a day after Bolton used bullying rhetoric against the UN-backed tribunal in The Hague.

Bolton brazenly threatened on Monday that if the ICC proceeded with a possible probe into possible war crimes committed by the US military and intelligence operatives during its war in Afghanistan or pursued any investigation into war crimes by the Israeli regime or other American allies, Washington would impose sanctions against the court and seek to prosecute its officials where possible.

Reacting to the unprecedented threat by the senior US official, the international court further insisted that it was an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 nations, and that it would not be intimidated or dissuaded from its global task.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced last year that there was a “reasonable basis to believe” war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed in Afghanistan and that all sides in the 17-year-old conflict would be inspected, including members of the US military and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) spying network.

In its Tuesday statement, the ICC did not say clearly whether it will launch a probe of possible war crimes by the US in Afghanistan.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks to the Federalist Society, in Washington DC, the US, September 10, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Bolton threatened that if such an investigation went forward, Washington would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the US, sanction the funds they have there, and even prosecute them in American courts.

‘Straight out of an authoritarian playbook’

Washington has refused to ratify the Rome Treaty that established the ICC. The US has adopted the so-called American Services-Members’ Protection Act — nicknamed The Hague Invasion Act — which authorizes the use of any means necessary to free any American personnel held by the court.

Bolton’s remarks, meanwhile, have alarmed many legal experts, including the executive director of the London-based International Bar Association, Mark Ellis, who blasted what he referred to as “the [US President Donald] Trump administration’s repugnant policy of exceptionalism.”

“The extraordinary attack launched by… Bolton against the ICC is not only in direct contradiction to the principle of accountability for war crimes, but reinforces the Trump administration’s repugnant policy of exceptionalism, where it demands adherence to international law by all countries, except itself,” Ellis said, as quoted in a report by British daily The Guardian.

The paper also quoted the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, Jamil Dakwar, as saying, “The Trump administration’s threat to criminally prosecute and sanction international criminal court judges and prosecutors is straight out of an authoritarian playbook.”

‘Justice not a luxury’

Bolton’s remarks were also censured by Head of Afghanistan’s Human Rights Commission Sima Samar, who said, “It’s very unfortunate because delivering justice to victims will help to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan,” she said. “Justice is not a luxury. It is a basic human right.”

Moreover, the Palestinian Authority also emphasized that it would not abandon its principles after a US decision to close the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington in retaliation for it calling for an ICC investigation into the Israeli regime’s persisting crimes across the occupied territories.


Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses:

Press TV News Roku