The last step of the Trump administration to prevent the International Criminal Court from investigating war crimes in Afghanistan was announced on Friday by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, but it is difficult not to see it as the result of the # 39; influence of the national security adviser John Bolton.
Pompey announced a "policy on US visa restrictions against those individuals directly responsible for any ICC US personnel investigation" and said the administration was already implementing the policy, even if he would not name anyone involved. He cited the authority granted to the secretary of state under the 1990 immigration law to prohibit people whose presence "would have potentially negative consequences on US foreign policy". He also said that the policy could be used to discourage investigations into allied personnel, including Israelis, and said further steps could include economic sanctions.
Bolton presented these passages in a speech in September. Bolton, a longtime antagonist of the court, sees the ICC as a dangerous threat to American sovereignty and, in some way contradictory, an ineffective and redundant organization. He called his work to reject the administration of George W. Bush "one of my most proud achievements".
While this is a long-time fixation on Bolton, the actions of the State Department on Friday were specifically called for by the ICC Fatou Bensouda prosecutor's request in November 2017 for a formal investigation into war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The ICC investigations examine all actions in a given country rather than those of a particular actor, so this could include alleged crimes by the Taliban and Afghan and US military government forces. While the United States is not part of the ICC, Afghanistan is, so the actions that have been committed fall within the jurisdiction of the Court. However, the court's ability to enforce this mandate is notoriously weak, and it is very unlikely that American troops will actually be tried at the Hague. In any case, no significant action has been taken on the Afghanistan case, since the Bolton judges are still evaluating the evidence to decide on Bensouda's request, so it is not clear enough what caused this escalation. Pompey said only that it was unacceptable that "the prosecutor's request for an investigation remains pending." One of the ICC judges left the court in January, partly to protest the pressures of the Trump administration.
It is worth noting that US law already includes restrictions on CCI agents. The American Servicemembers Protection Act, a Congress of anti-ICC measures approved in 2002, already prohibits CIC agents from conducting US soil investigations or investigations. The new policy goes one step further, as the ICC staff is apparently ruled out before an investigation has begun.
ASPA was dubbed the "Hague Invasion Act" by opponents due to a clause authorizing a military action to save US citizens who were detained on charges by the court. It seemed an unbelievable scenario.