US Visa Denial to ICC Staff ‘Reeks of Totalitarianism’ - Rights Group

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Pompeo went on to say, "this includes persons who take or have taken action to request or further section an investigation - these visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue ally personnel, including Israelis, without ally's consent".

Pompeo said the policy was already being implemented but would not elaborate, citing visa privacy laws. "We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change course".

In an unprecedented attack on the global body, charged with judging war crimes and crimes against humanity, the White House threatened its judges or prosecutors in September past year with sanctions if they target Americans or Israel.

Human Rights Watch called the announcement a "thuggish attempt to penalize investigators" at the court.

Pompeo made good on a threat delivered last September by US President Donald Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, center, waits on the steps of the International Criminal Court after answering questions of reporters in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, June 25, 2015.

"The ICC is attacking America's rule of law", Pompeo told a news conference on Friday.

The prosecution's request said there is information that members of the USA military and intelligence agencies "committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period".

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"That the administration has chosen visa bans, powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers, to prevent investigation into allegations involving some of the most serious crimes in the world is highly indicative of its culture of disregard for rights abuses".

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

After the court's founding in 2002, Congress passed a law prohibiting U.S. support for the ICC and also authorizing the government to use all necessary means to repatriate any American citizen detained by the court.

"This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt worldwide accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day", Dakwar said.

"The Trump administration is trying an end run around accountability", it said. The United States has rejected the ICC since the body was first proposed during the Clinton administration, claiming it would be used by U.S. enemies for politically motivated attacks against Americans serving overseas, especially USA service members.

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".

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

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