Swiss regret United States action over International Criminal Court

US weighs visa ban against ICC officials probing American soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greets coalition forces at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, on July 9, 2018.

On Friday at the State Department, Pompeo said he would revoke visas for anyone responsible for for an ICC investigation of us personnel.

"I'm announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of USA personnel", Pompeo told a news conference in Washington on March 15.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was prepared to take further steps, including economic sanctions, if the war crimes court goes ahead with any probes of USA or allied personnel.

"These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies' consent", Pompeo added.

Pompeo also warned about potential economic sanctions "if the ICC does not change its course".

The United States' decision to revoke visas and refuse to grant new ones to the staff of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague echoes the worst human rights abusers and totalitarian regimes, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement on Friday.

In November 2017, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she would ask judges for permission to open an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the Afghan conflict, including by the U.S. military. "It must therefore not become the target of political measures", said a press releaseexternal link issued by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) on Friday evening. While she didn't target the USA military, Bensouda said the inquiry sought "support and cooperation" from the Afghan government, other state parties and the global community as a whole "to accomplish our objectives of ensuring accountability for the crimes committed and that the long-suffering victims of those crimes receive justice".

The Hague-based court, the first global tribunal for war crimes, issued a statement saying it would continue to operate "undeterred" by the USA action.

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

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

The court has been hobbled by refusal of the US, Russia, China and other major nations to join.

Supporters of the court slammed Pompeo's announcement on Friday.

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

"Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked", she said, and called on USA lawmakers to rescind the move and express support for the court.

It said that all states were obliged to prosecute and punish the most serious crimes.

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