The US will revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel who try to investigate or prosecute alleged abuses committed by US forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday. The Hague-based court, the first global tribunal for war crimes, said it would continue to operate "undeterred" by the US action, per the AP. The US had already moved against some ICC employees, Pompeo said, but he declined to say how many or what cases they may have been investigating. "We are determined to protect the American and allied military and civilian personnel from living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation," Pompeo said. He said any wrongdoing committed by American personnel would be dealt with in US military and criminal courts.
"These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies' consent," he said. Last September, national security adviser John Bolton said the ICC, of which the US has never been a member, was a direct threat to US national security interests, and he threatened its personnel with both visa revocations and financial sanctions should it try to move against Americans. Pompeo said Friday that more measures may come, "including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course," he said. Supporters of the court slammed Pompeo's announcement: Human Rights Watch called it "a thuggish attempt to penalize" ICC investigators. "Taking action against those who work for the ICC sends a clear message to torturers and murderers alike: Their crimes may continue unchecked," it said. (Read more International Criminal Court stories.)