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US will not cooperate with ICC probe into Afghanistan

National Security Adviser John Bolton said the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over American troops fighting in Afghanistan

September 12, 2018 4:34 PM (UTC+8)
US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks in Washington on Sept 10. The US threatened to sanction ICC judges and officials if there are moves to charge Americans who served in Afghanistan with war crimes. Photo: AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

The United States has said that it would refuse to cooperate “in any way” with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague if it carries our a prospective investigation into allegations of war crimes by US military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan, the website GlobalSecurity.org reported on Monday.

US national security adviser John Bolton told the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a conservative Washington-based organization, that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over Americans or personnel from other countries that not ratified the 1998 Rome Statue that led to the formation of the International Criminal Court in 2002.

Bolton said if the ICC carries out an investigation into US military actions in Afghanistan, Washington would ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, freeze any funds they have in US financial institutions, and would seek to prosecute them in US courts. Bolton referred to members of the US military and intelligence services as “patriots”.

Last November, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bom Bensouda of Gambia, said the investigation would focus on “war crimes by members of the United States armed forces” and “secret detention facilities in Afghanistan” used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), particularly in 2003 and 2004. She said the Taliban and its affiliated Haqqani network, plus Afghanistan’s armed forces, would also be investigated.

Amnesty International immediately rebuked the US position on the issue, 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.”

The ICC is not a UN agency, but the UN Security Council can be involved in its actions. However, the five permanent members of the Security Council only France and the United Kingdom have signed and ratified the Rome Statute. China, Russia and the United States have not.

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