International Criminal Court tags US sanctions threat ‘baseless’

The International Criminal Court on Tuesday said its work would continue “undeterred” after Washington threatened to prosecute its judges if Americans are charged with war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

France and Germany also weighed in to support the Hague-based court after White House National Security Advisor John Bolton said the ICC was “already dead to us”.

“The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law,” the tribunal said in a statement.

In a further show of support, the Hague-based court’s overseeing body said it received “strong cooperation and backing” from its 123 member states as well as from other states, international organisations and civil society.

Key states spoke up to defend the ICC, set up in 2002 with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the world’s worst crimes including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“France, with its European partners, supports the ICC, both in its financial support and with its cooperation,” the French foreign ministry said

“The court must be able to act and exercise its prerogatives unhindered, in an independent and impartial manner.”

Germany’s foreign ministry said on Twitter that “we are committed to the work of the ICC in particular when it comes under fire”.

Bolton, US President Donald Trump’s hardline national security aide, on Monday threatened to arrest and sanction court officials should they move to charge any American who served in Afghanistan with war crimes.

“We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC and we certainly will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

But in response, the ICC declared itself an “independent and impartial judicial institution”.

It also stressed that it would only investigate and prosecute crimes “when the States concerned fail to do so at all or genuinely.”