12:00 AM, September 12, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 12, 2018

ICC 'undeterred'

Hague-based court rebuffs US threats of sanctions, prosecution

The International Criminal Court yesterday said it would "continue to do its work undeterred" a day after US National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened sanctions if the tribunal investigated US activities in Afghanistan.

The Hague-based court said in a statement it was an independent and impartial institution with the backing of 123 countries.

"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," it said.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said last year there was a “reasonable basis to believe” war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in Afghanistan and that all sides in the conflict would be examined, including members of the US armed forces and Central Intelligence Agency.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton on Monday called the Hague-based rights body "unaccountable" and "outright dangerous" to the United States, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation".

"If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly," Bolton said. The US was prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans, he added.

The United States did not ratify the Rome treaty that established the ICC during the presidency of Republican George W Bush. Instead, it adopted the American Services-Members' Protection Act, nicknamed the Hague Invasion Act because it authorised the use of any means necessary to free US personnel held by the court.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians yesterday announced a fresh push against Israel at the International Criminal Court, a day after the United States said it was closing their Washington mission partly over the campaign.