GENEVA (22 March 2019) – Warnings by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton of measures against the International Criminal Court (ICC) must not be allowed to hinder the Court’s ability to fulfil its mandate, say UN human rights experts*.
"We are particularly concerned in light of recent reports of senior ICC staff resigning from their positions as a consequence of these threats," said the UN experts.
In a speech on 10 September 2018, John Bolton warned that ICC judges, prosecutors and staff would face measures if they went ahead with investigating alleged war crimes by the US, Israel or other US allies.
He said the measures would include "all means necessary", such as a ban on ICC judges and prosecutors entering the United States; freezing their funds in the US financial system; and ultimately, their prosecution in the US. He said the same would apply to companies or States assisting any ICC investigation of American citizens.
In March 2019, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said the US would revoke or deny visas to members of the ICC involved in investigations against US troops in Afghanistan or elsewhere, and threatened economic sanctions.
"These threats constitute improper interference with the independence of the ICC and could hinder the ability of ICC judges, prosecutors, and staff to carry out their professional duties," said the UN experts.
"In order to guarantee effective and equal access to justice and a fair trial in accordance with international standards, the judicial system and individual judges must be independent and free from any improper interference."
The UN experts expressed deep concern at the intimidation. "These threats may discourage human rights defenders, civil society organisations, victims’ representatives, companies or others from cooperating with the ICC in pursuit of truth and justice," they said.
The experts are in contact with the US authorities on the issues.
(*) The UN experts: Mr. Michel Forst (France),Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Mr. Diego García-Sayán (Peru), Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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