Friday, June 12, 2020

The Rogue State

Instead of standing for international justice and the rule of law, the USA is launching an economic and legal offensive on the international criminal court in response to the court’s decision to open an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan carried out by all sides, including the United States. Judges at the ICC gave the green light in March to an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan. 

The ICC was set up in 2002, as an attempt to extend the effort to impose international humanitarian law for war crimes and crimes against humanity begun by the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Over 120 countries, including Washington’s closest allies in Europe, are party to the Rome statute, the founding document of the ICC.
The US will not just sanction ICC officials involved in the investigation of alleged war crimes by the US and its allies, it will also impose visa restrictions on the families of those officials. Additionally, the administration declared on Thursday that it was launching a counter-investigation into the ICC, for alleged corruption.

American officials accuse the ICC of  violating the sovereignty of the United States.

Attorney general, William Barr, referred to the ICC as “little more than a political tool employed by unaccountable international elites”.

The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo,  made clear the US sanctions were also aimed at defending Israel as the ICC began an investigation into crimes by Israeli and Palestinian forces in December.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, welcomed the move, describing the Hague-based court as “politicised and obsessed with carrying out a witch-hunt against Israel and the United States.”

David Bosco, who wrote a book on the ICC, Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics, said: “I think this is as much directed at the looming Palestine situation as it is at the Afghanistan investigation. The executive order clearly allows for sanctions against ICC personnel who investigate US allies who have not consented to the court’s jurisdiction.”

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the decision, arguing that Trump was “playing directly into the hands of authoritarian regimes by intimidating judges and prosecutors committed to holding countries accountable for war crimes. Trump’s sanctions order against ICC personnel and their families – some of whom could be American citizens – is a dangerous display of his contempt for human rights and those working to uphold them. We are exploring all options in response,” the ACLU said.
The Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said he was “very disturbed” by the news.

 And so he should be for the United States passed the American Services Members Protection Act, sometimes called the Hague Invasion Act, which empowers the USA to take military action against the Netherlands if either any American citizen or a citizen of one of America's allies (eg Israel) is detained and put on trial by the international court.  

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