President Donald Trump authorized sanctioning any International Criminal Court (ICC) officials who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. personnel, as top officials argued that America conducts its own probes into alleged misconduct.
Trump issued an executive order Thursday declaring a national emergency with respect to the attempts by the ICC to assert authority over United States personnel without the consent of America.
If Secretary of State Mike Pompeo determines that foreign persons are involved in such attempts, they’ll have their property and interests blocked by Department of Treasury officials.
Top administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, announced their support for the move.
Attempts by ICC officials to probe American personnel is “inconsistent with fundamental principles of international law,” Esper said at a press conference on Thursday morning, adding that the U.S. isn’t party to the Rome Statue, which created the ICC, nor have officials accepted that it has jurisdiction over U.S. personnel.
“We are here today to defend American sovereignty,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien added. ICC efforts are “unfounded, illegitimate, and make a mockery of justice.
Intelligence indicates enemies of the United States are encouraging attempts to prosecute American personnel, he said.
Judges on the court earlier this year greenlit a probe into alleged war crimes committed by Afghan government forces, Taliban militants, American troops, and U.S. intelligence personnel.
It was the first time the court granted approval to investigate American forces.
“The many victims of atrocious crimes committed in the context of the conflict in Afghanistan deserve to finally have justice. Today, they are one step closer to that coveted outcome,” ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement at the time.
She pledged to conduct an independent, impartial, and objective investigation.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement Thursday that Trump also authorized the expansion of visa restrictions against ICC officials and their family members.
“The International Criminal Court was established to provide accountability for war crimes, but in practice it has been an unaccountable and ineffective international bureaucracy that targets and threatens United States personnel as well as personnel of our allies and partners,” she said.
Officials repeatedly alleged that the court is corrupt and has not taken action to reform itself.
If ICC officials have information about alleged misconduct by U.S. personnel, they can submit the information to American authorities, Esper said.
The ICC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
From The Epoch Times