US threatens sanctions against ICC if it investigates Afghanistan war crimes

450px-Building_of_the_International_Criminal_Court_in_The_Hague
The International Criminal Court building in The Hague (Photo: Hanhil/Wikimedia Commons). (The International Criminal Court building in The Hague (Photo: Hanhil/Wikimedia Commons))

The United States is threatening with sanctions against the International Criminal Court in The Hague and its judges if the ICC participates in an investigation into possible war crimes committed by American soldiers in Afghanistan. "The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court", US national security adviser John Bolton said in a speech in Washington, the Guardian reports.

The ICC is currently investigating whether it can rule on violence used by American soldiers in Afghanistan, according to broadcaster NOS. What makes the matter complicated is that the US does not recognize the ICC, because the country does not want Americans to be prosecuted abroad. Afghanistan does recognize the ICC. So the question is under which jurisdiction Americans in Afghanistan fall.

Bolton said that the US government will "fight back" if the ICC proceeded with an investigation into possible war crimes committed by American soldiers during the war in Afghanistan, or started any investigation into Israel or other American allies, according to the Guardian. Bolton said that the US would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country, impose sanctions on any money they have in the US, and would even criminally prosecute them in the American court system.

"If the court comes after us, Israel, or other US allies, we will not sit quietly", he said. "We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead." He called the investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan "utterly unfounded, unjustifiable", adding that the US will make agreements with other countries to prohibit countries from surrendering Americans to the ICC in The Hague. 

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