The US was yesterday to adopt an aggressive posture against the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands, threatening sanctions against its judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.
US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton was to make the announcement in a midday speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, in Washington.
It was to be his first major address since joining the Trump White House.
“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 was to say, according to a draft of his speech seen by reporters.
Bolton was also to say that the US Department of State would announce the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington out of concern about Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.
The PLO office in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton’s draft text says.
The draft speech said that the Trump administration “will fight back” if the ICC formally proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.
If such a probe proceeds, the Trump administration would consider banning judges and prosecutors from entering the US, put sanctions on any funds they have in the US financial system and prosecute them in the US court system.
“We will not cooperate 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,” Bolton’s draft text says.
In addition, the US might negotiate more binding, bilateral agreements to prohibit nations from surrendering Americans to the Hague court, it says.
The court’s aim is to bring to justice the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The US did not ratify the Rome Statute, which established the court, in 2002, with then-US president George W. Bush opposed to the court.
Former US president Barack Obama took some steps to cooperate with the organization.
“We will consider taking steps in the UN Security Council to constrain the court’s sweeping powers, including to ensure that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome Statute,” Bolton’s draft text says.
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