25 May 2019

Switzerland regrets US visa bans against int. court

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Switzerland regrets the US move to impose visa restrictions on members of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), probing alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan, the Swiss Foreign Ministry said, adding that the court must not be subject to political sanctions. reports citing European media.

"Switzerland regrets that the United States of America has imposed visa restrictions against officials of the International Criminal Court and threatened to adopt further sanctions. The Court is independent and bound only by law. It must therefore not become the target of political measures", the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The ministry noted that Switzerland was among 123 countries that supported the court, adding that all states were obliged to prosecute and punish crimes.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would impose visa restrictions and possibly economic sanctions on individuals linked to any ICC investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US personnel in Afghanistan or by US allies, particularly Israel, elsewhere.

The United States has repeatedly criticized the court, calling it a threat to US sovereignty, and threatened to bar the court judges from entering the country.

The court, in its turn, has said it would continue doing its work in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, despite criticism and threats by the Trump administration. Notably, the UN-backed court said in its 2016 report that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the United States had been complicit in the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in secret detention facilities in Afghanistan in 2003-2004.

In 2017, the court said it would carry out a more detailed investigation into the abuses by the US military in Afghanistan.

2019.03.16 / 13:59
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