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...And Justice Not for All

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WASHINGTON – April 9, 2019

How's Washington Opposition to ICC Going to Play

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda claimed on April 5 that Washington has canceled her visa to the United States and she considers this act as an attempt to attack the ICC. According to the prosecutor, she has “an independent and impartial mandate under the Rome Statute of the ICC and will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favour.”

Bensouda’s report to the UN Security Council on the investigation of the Libya events is scheduled for this month. UN representative Stephane Dujarric expressed the hope that the United States will allow prosecutors and judges of the ICC to come on official need to the UN headquarters in New York.

The State Department confirmed the measures against Bensouda but did not report on its readiness to let her in in April for a report to the UN. If she will be shut out, it could be an international scandal, experts say. The ICC includes 123 countries to which the United States would thus be expressing its arrogance.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who previously stated that the “United States will take the necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and to protect our people from unjust investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court,” is canceling visas to the ICC officers involved in the investigation of “far-fetched” military and other crimes committed by US military personnel in Afghanistan or somewhere else. The same will be done “with those who seek action against Israel.”

The visa withdrawal is also because the ICC has launched a comprehensive investigation into the war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Afghan National Security Forces, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, as well as US troops. Bensouda sent requests to Washington about possible information about war crimes in Afghanistan, in which the Americans were involved.

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The requests said the American 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.” Earlier Bensouda said she would pay, in particular, close attention to the secret CIA prisons.

The EU has not stayed away from the dispute between the ICC and the United States administration. EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini supported the ICC. She stressed that “the European Union is a staunch supporter of the Rome Statute and the International Criminal Court as the only permanent international criminal court with global aspiration.”

The United States is not a member of the ICC, which has the task of prosecuting those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court was established on the basis of the Rome Statute, was adopted in 1998, and officially began its work on 1 July 2002.

Bill Clinton’s administration signed the Rome Statute, but the US Senate did not ratify it. In 2002, the United States adopted the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (“ASPA”), which prohibits US authorities from carrying out activities aimed at cooperation or support for the ICC.

A powerful attack on the International Criminal Court was undertaken by the Trump administration. In September, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the administration could impose sanctions against the ICC.

"We will let the ICC die on its own. The ICC is already dead to us!" Bolton said.

As he also noted, the Trump administration will take measures that have never been used in diplomatic practice before, namely, it will begin criminal prosecution of employees of the ICC.

Since the beginning of the investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan, the conflict between the ICC and Washington has become widespread. It is time to sum up the 17-year war that the United States and its NATO allies are waging in this country.

A report on the “CIA prison”

In November 2016, after a preliminary investigation, the ICC published a report that gave evidence that there might have been a secret CIA prison near Kabul where torture had been used. According to the report, the US army may have been involved in ill-treatment and torture of at least 61 detainees during operations in Afghanistan from May 1, 2003 to December 31, 2014.

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CIA operatives may have been responsible for the mistreatment of 27 prisoners from Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania from December 2002 to March 2008, the document said. The report also indicates that war crimes during the war in Afghanistan were likely committed by both the Taliban and the Afghan government army.

The Pentagon, in turn, doesn’t ever make public the statistics of war crimes in Afghanistan, but the facts that become public say a lot. In February 2017, the UN mission in Afghanistan reported that a record number of civilian casualties have been achieved here. According to the mission, 11,418 civilians were killed in 2016 alone. The responsibility for this lies with all fighting participants, but the main fault lies with the interventionists – the United States and its NATO allies, who invaded Afghanistan without the sanction of the UN Security Council in October 2001 and still remain there.

Counting the number of victims of this aggression for 17 and a half years, including the dead Afghans, who are recorded by the US military as “indirect damage,” will create the huge effect of exposing US foreign policy. However, by NATO’s 70th anniversary, Washington blocked the investigation of its war crimes in Afghanistan.

Judge not, and you will not be judged

What look like “judicial cases” from the outside are directly related to geopolitics. More precisely, to the confrontation between Europe and the United States, the conflict between supporters of an open world, “global” America and their opponents on the Trump team, day after day repeat: “America above all.”

Information about the ICC actions is still a “time bomb” for the United States. And among the organizations whose actions are going to study the court, in addition to the US Army was the Central Intelligence Agency that, according to the White House, has gotten way out of hand. The list of potential charges against American military personnel includes torture, ill-treatment, rape and other violent crimes of a sexual nature. And The Hague wants to engage in the behavior of Americans not only in Afghanistan but also in other places (for example, in Iraq), which in the case of an objective trial threatens Washington with irreparable reputational losses. And although the United States has not ratified the Rome Statute, which defined the rules of the ICC, and doesn’t recognize its competence, the White House was outraged by the idea that American citizens and state institutions in absentia will be on a docket with a whole bunch of heavy charges.

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But most importantly, what is feared in the Trump environment is the indictment verdict of the ICC on the involvement of the New World soldiers in crimes against humanity in the “hotspots.” After all, such a judgment will stain American “holiness” for decades to come and will put an end to the arguments of generations of American presidents about the “exclusivity and high moral qualities” of the American nation.

It was here that John Bolton was formed with his harsh criticism and hints that the ICC is clearly playing with fire if it begins an investigation. Everything is clear. Bolton, as a pawn in the big game, is hinting to the world the United States will never let the world know the truth.

This is the easiest way to explain Bolton’s statements, who called the ICC’s intentions in The Hague “illegal and invalid,” with the general nervousness reigning in the administration, where, it seems, a day doesn't pass without a loud scandal. At the same time, we cannot say the ICC will have an advantage over Washington if it starts its investigation. There are at least multiple restrictions that will be imposed immediately after the starting, and consequent inability to collect total data during the investigation.

It is worth noting this is not the first time that the Trump administration has responded to moves to look into the US’s pitfalls with fear and trepidation and criticism. Earlier, the International Court of Justice demanded the removal of US sanctions against Iran. Thus, representatives of the legal authority called on Washington to lift restrictions that prevent the supply of humanitarian aid and spare parts for the country’s civil aviation to the Islamic Republic.

Already today, many experts are saying in response that the UN court can expect a reaction sooner or later from the United States if such words again appear in the court statements.

This also shows the policy of double standards which is more than ever peculiar to the United States. For example, America, which hardly considers itself China’s main ally, but is rather in the midst of a trade war against it, made threats yesterday. In particular, Washington intends to hold Cuba “responsible for undermining democracy in Venezuela,” and also intends to protect Taiwan from China, Bolton said. This happened immediately after reports of readiness to sell sixty American fighters to the island.

Bolton accused Cuba of “participating in the ongoing Maduro repression of the Venezuelan people,” and China of military provocations against Taiwan. He also said that “Chinese military provocations won’t win any hearts or minds in Taiwan, but they will strengthen the resolve of people everywhere who value democracy.” Beijing’s actions, according to the US, will “strengthen the resolve” of democracy supporters around the world.

Trump's adviser reminded China that the US is ready to defend Taiwan: “The Taiwan Relations Act [TRA] and our commitment are clear.”

All this indicates the undermining of the collective security system. The US is not ready to give in to the world if someone tries to infiltrate and prevent them from investigating whether it’s the US military or US officials.

As for the visa cancelation for the ICC Prosecutor, the paradox of the whole situation is that the preliminary investigation into the crimes committed by the US military in Afghanistan began, according to the British media, in 2006. But the collected evidence in the International Criminal Court was given the green light only now. At the same time, the tribunal officials could assume that the impulsive United States President would try to surrender to such a demonstrative restriction of American sovereignty. However, they were not afraid of Trump’s anger.

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If the ICC, whose activities are, according to experts, significantly influenced by the EU human rights structures, continues to investigate US war crimes in Afghanistan, it will be a strong irritant in Washington and Brussels relations. And the inevitable conviction, even in absentia, against specific US officials and the military will strengthen the politicians of the Old World in their desire to create their own European Defense Pact without the participation of tarnished reputation of US troops in the “hotspots.” At the same time, the position of those countries that still rely on the presence of American bases in Europe will be significantly weakened.

Author: USA Really