US President Donald Trump has warned the International Criminal Court (ICC) of â€śswift and vigorous responseâ€ť if the Hague-based tribunal investigates Americans and Israelis for war crimes.
Trump issued the warning on Friday, after ICC judges rejected a request by the courtâ€™s prosecutor to probe atrocities committed by US forces in Afghanistan.
Trump hailed the unusual ruling as a â€śmajor international victory,â€ť claiming that the Americans and Israelis should be immune from ICC prosecution.
â€śSince the creation of the ICC, the United States has consistently declined to join the court because of its broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers; the threat it poses to American national sovereignty; and other deficiencies that render it illegitimate,â€ť he said.
â€śAny attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response,â€ť he added.
Amnesty International denounced the ICCâ€™s decision as a â€śshocking abandonment of victimsâ€ť that would â€śweaken the courtâ€™s already questionable credibility.â€ť
Biraj Patnaik, South Asia Director at Amnesty International, stressed that the ruling would be seen as a â€ścraven capitulation to Washingtonâ€™s bullying.â€ť
Last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would withdraw or revoke visas for ICC staff who prosecute American troops in Afghanistan, as well as their allied personnel, including Israelis.
He also warned about potential economic sanctions â€śif the ICC does not change its course.â€ť
US National Security Adviser John Bolton had also threatened to revoke the visas of ICC personnel if the court pursued charges against members of the US military over crimes in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, the US revoked ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensoudaâ€™s visa as part of a crackdown on the ICC.
The ICC has been examining abuses committed by all parties in the Afghan war for more than a decade.
In November 2017, Bensouda sought authorization to open an inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including in states where the CIA held prisoners.
The ICC is also investigating Israeli atrocities in the West Bank and Gaza, including the demolition of Palestinian property and eviction of the Palestinians from the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Neither the US nor Israel are ICC members.
The United States has revoked the entry visa of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, who is looking into the US militaryâ€™s possible war crimes in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced, last month, that the United States would withdraw or deny visas for the ICC personnel probing the war crimes allegations against American forces.
United Nations human rights experts denounced Washingtonâ€™s â€śimproper interferenceâ€ť in the work of the court, which has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
The US denial of visa to the ICC prosecutor also drew criticism from within the European Union.
â€śWe can confirm that the U.S. authorities have revoked the prosecutorâ€™s visa for entry into the US,â€ť Bensoudaâ€™s office told the Reuters news agency in an e-mail, on Thursday.
Last month, the US secretary of state also declared that Washington was ready to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the world body failed to change its course.
The United States has refused to cooperate with international investigators over their probe into possible war crimes of US military personnel in Afghanistan, claiming they violate US sovereignty.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has previously rebuked and questioned the International Criminal Court. One of National Security Adviser John Boltonâ€™s first speeches was about the ICC, condemning its investigation into US personnel.
The US invaded Afghanistan, in October of 2001, and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But, US forces have remained bogged down, there, through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and, now, Donald Trump.
Obama announced, in 2013, that he was pulling out all US troops from the Arab country. However, the US troops returned to Iraq a year later, under the pretext of fighting the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist group.
Trump had also pledged, during his election campaign, to end the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, he has changed his mind, since entering office, and prolonged the US military presence in both countries.
The ICC has repeatedly highlighted alleged abuses of detainees, by American troops between 2003 and 2005, that it believes have not been adequately addressed by the US government.
Washington insists that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over American citizens because the US never ratified the Rome Statute that established the court in the first place, PNN reports.
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip, and continues into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.