Secretary of State Pompeo announces sanctions on anyone requesting ICC probes

Court building is seen in The Hague Netherlands

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

Pompeo told a news conference in Washington the first visa denials had already been issued under the new regime, but gave no idea of how many people might be targeted in total.

"While victims' rights should be the very top priority of the United States government, throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC's investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under global law".

The Trump administration threatened in September to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States and sanction funds they have there if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Pompeo said the new visa restrictions would include "persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation".

"I'm announcing a policy of USA visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of U.S. personnel", the secretary of state said. He said the policy had already taken effect, but declined to say who had been restricted or would face future restrictions.

The secretary of state said the U.S. had declined to join the ICC "because of its broad unaccountable prosecutorial powers" and the threat it proposes to American national sovereignty.

"We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation", Pompeo said.

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

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This past September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to US national security interests and he threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans.

This past September, Bolton said the ICC was a direct threat to USA national security interests and he threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans.

The ICC said in a statement it was established by a treaty supported by 123 countries and that it prosecutes cases only when those countries failed to do so or did not do so "genuinely". Afghanistan is a signatory.

"The ICC is attacking America's rule of law", Pompeo told reporters.

Supporters of the court slammed Pompeo's announcement.

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

"These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts", he said.

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

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