THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The International Criminal Court said on Tuesday it would “continue to do its work undeterred” a day after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton threatened sanctions if the tribunal investigated U.S. activities in Afghanistan.
The Hague-based court said 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 in a statement.
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 U.S. armed forces and Central Intelligence Agency.
Bolton said on Monday that if such an investigation was launched, the Trump administration would consider banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States, sanctioning funds they have there and prosecuting them in U.S. courts.
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 authorized the use of any means necessary to free U.S. personnel held by the court.
France, a major advocate of the ICC, said the institution should be left to do its work without hindrance.
“France, with its European partners, supports the International Criminal Court, both in its budgetary contribution and in its cooperation with it,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.
“The court must be able to act and exercise its prerogatives without hindrance, independently and impartially, within the legal framework defined by the Rome Statute,” it said.
(Reporting by Anthony Deutsch and John Irish in Paris; Editing by Mark Heinrich)