Secretary of State Pompeo announces sanctions on anyone requesting ICC probes

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The new visa restrictions will not terminate Washington's previous measures, and new economic sanctions may follow if the International Criminal Court (ICC) fails to change its course, Pompeo said during the briefing.

The United States will impose visa restrictions on people responsible for any International Criminal Court probe, a move aimed at preventing actions against US and allies in Afghanistan, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

The visa restrictions would apply to any ICC employee who takes or has taken action "to request or further such an investigation", Pompeo said.

Following up on a threat made last September by hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, Pompeo said Friday that the U.S. has already begun moving against a handful of employees at the ICC.

The US has never joined the ICC, where a prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, asked judges in November 2017 to initiate an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani network fighters, as well as US forces and intelligence officials in Afghanistan since May 2003.

Pompeo, acting on a threat delivered in September by USA national security adviser John Bolton, framed the action as necessary to prevent the worldwide body from infringing on US sovereignty by prosecuting American forces or allies for torture or other war crimes.

"But that's not how law works, " he said on Twitter.

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He appeared to be referring in particular to requests for investigations with regards to USA military actions in Afghanistan.

Judges are reviewing all material submitted by the prosecutor, and must decide whether or not to authorise an investigation.

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

James Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, said Pompeo's remarks reflected the administration's view that worldwide law matters "only when it is aligned with U.S. national interests".

"Under these measures, we will not interfere with travel to the United Nations for official United Nations purposes", the official said.

The ICC came into being in 2002 with over 120 members, including most European nations.

But ICC membership was never ratified by the US Senate and the "America First" administration of President Donald Trump has been a particularly virulent opponent.

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