US Threatens ICC Over Attempt To Prosecute Americans

The Unites States has threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it goes ahead with prosecutions against Americans.

The court is currently considering prosecuting US servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan.

National Security Adviser John Bolton called the court “illegitimate” and vowed the US would do everything “to protect our citizens”.

The US is among dozens of nations not to have joined the 2002-founded court.

He has long been an outspoken critic of the court but Monday’s hard-hitting speech in Washington focused on two areas.

The first was ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request last year for a full investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, which would include any committed by US military and intelligence officials.

On this issue, Mr Bolton said neither Afghanistan nor any government signatory to the ICC’s Rome Statute had made such a request.

The second was the Palestinian move to bring Israel before the ICC over allegations of human rights abuses in Gaza and the occupied West Bank – a move dismissed by Israel as politicised.

Mr Bolton said the Palestinian move was one of the reasons the US administration had decided to close the Palestinians’ diplomatic mission in Washington.

In his tirade against the court, Mr Bolton said it:

  • Was a threat to “American sovereignty and US national security”
  • Lacked checks and balances, claimed “jurisdiction over crimes that have disputed and ambiguous definitions” and failed to “deter and punish atrocity crimes”
  • Was “superfluous” as the US administration did “not recognise any higher authority than the US Constitution”

Mr Bolton said: “We will not co-operate 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.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders backed Mr Bolton, saying President Donald Trump would use “any means necessary to protect our citizens [and] those of our allies from unjust prosecution from the ICC”.