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Obstruction Of International Justice By US

Posted on 5th April 2019

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The latest in the continuing saga of lack of respect for international law by the USA is reported in this article on the BBC.

The USA has revoked the visa of the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who is investigating possible war crimes by American forces and their allies in Afghanistan.

The decision is not a surprise, in that the US had warned the US might refuse or revoke visas to any ICC staff involved in such probes. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said: "We're prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course".

Part of the problem here is an inherent issue with international law (see the other posts in this blog thread, by clicking the link above): it is not really law at all.

The US is not signed up to the ICC, although the history of this is complicated. Nevertheless, there is a huge difference between not signing up to be a member of an important piece of International Law, and actively sabotaging it (and using blackmail, in the form of sanctions, to try to force the issue).

It is not as if the US military's record overseas is spotless. There have been many reported cases of torture (e.g. Abu Ghraib), extra-judicial killings, "extraordinary rendition" and other war crimes and violations of human rights by US military or the CIA recorded over recent years. The well known cases all occurred outside of US jurisdiction (although it could be argued that the imposition of martial law places some, but not all, of these crimes within US jurisdiction), which places them out of reach of US courts. Who, then, can investigate and prosecute such cases? The ICC was established to solve this jurisdictional issue, among others.

So now the USA is flexing its muscles to block the investigation by the ICC. We should not stand for this. The USA sees itself (when it wants) as the policeman of the world; that role requires respect from at least some other nations, which in turn requires good behaviour and accountability.

Regarding the sanctions threat, in the same way as with the US-China trade war, which went into full tit-for-tat mode, sanctions against the ICC or its staff should be met with similar sanctions against US entities (people, government agencies, etc.).

If the US, in its continued playing fast and loose with human and legal rights, continues to act as a rogue nation, then they should be treated like one.