US Prepares to Bar Entry of International Criminal Court Investigators

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"I'm announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of USA personnel", Pompeo said.

Pompeo said the visa restrictions "may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies' consent".

Pompeo said the policy has already been implemented, but he did not provide details of who has been affected, citing confidentiality rules.

Pompeo's announcement came after John Bolton, President Donald Trump's national security adviser and a longtime critic of the ICC, threatened to impose sanctions on court officials in September if they continued to pursue an investigation of potential crimes by us civilians or military personnel in Afghanistan.

Pompeo's remarks come as the US National Security Advisor John Bolton in a speech on last September threatened the ICC and its staff with sanctions if it proceeds investigations into alleged war crimes by American troops in Afghanistan.

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Nevertheless, Human Rights Watch was not happy by the Trump Admsinstatrion's latest move, calling it "thuggish".

Friday's actions by the State Department followed a September 2018 threat from National Security Adviser John Bolton that the USA would "use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets coalition forces at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on July 9, 2018.

In November 2017, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda sought authorization to open an investigation into crimes connected to the conflict in Afghanistan.

"That the administration has chosen visa bans, powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers, to prevent investigation into allegations involving some of the most serious crimes in the world is highly indicative of its culture of disregard for rights abuses".

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"The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court", Bolton said. The Clinton administration in 2000 signed the Rome Statute that created the ICC but had reservations about the scope of the court's jurisdiction and never submitted it for ratification to the Senate, where there was broad bipartisan opposition to what lawmakers saw as a threat to USA sovereignty.

A State Department official said the United States would allow court officials to travel for meetings to the United Nations headquarters in NY.

The International Criminal Court is supported by 123 nations, including Switzerland.

"This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt global accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day", Dakwar said.

"The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability", it said. "Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked". Al-Bashir remains at large, as does Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who was among the first rebels charged by the court in 2005. Others have quit, including Burundi and the Philippines.

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