By Michael Hernandez
THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS—The International Criminal Court (ICC)—an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crime against humanity, war crime and crimes of aggression—seeks jurisdiction over the U.S. military and intelligence community despite the United States not being a member of the ICC.
The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor seeks to open investigations on Americans stationed in Afghanistan for at least 14 alleged war crimes with several American lawyers joining Human Rights Watch in its arguments against the United States.
Human Rights Watch is now led by tech entrepreneur and human rights activist Amy Rao. Their web site states: “We confront major threats to human rights, including the rise of authoritarian populist leaders, the climate crisis, wartime atrocities, and the record 65 million people displaced from their homes.”
The international tribune’s appeals chamber comprised of five judges is in fact an international supreme court that will rule Dec. 4-6 on: 1) alleged crimes of the Taliban and other forces 2) alleged crimes by Afghan forces and 3) alleged crimes by the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan since 2003 (the administrations of Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump).
The International Criminal Court began functioning July 1, 2002, the date that the Rome Statue—a multilateral treaty came into effect after the failure of the League of Nations to create an international tribunal to judge acts of international terrorism. Today, there are 122 member states (two-thirds of the nations of the world representing one-third of the world population) and 42 states are non-party, non-signatory states. China, Russia and the United States are the biggest non-member nations. Since forming, the ICC has only looked at nine situations most of which have been in African nations.
Speaking in defense of the United States is the European Center for Law and Justice with a team of eight attorneys including Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice and Jordan Sekulow. The ACLJ has launched a Petition to Defend American Soldiers from false ICC charges that has been signed by over 92,000 Americans.
The petition states: “It’s disturbing and infuriating to the core. Our soldiers face a grave new threat, and it’s not from the terrorists. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is considering prosecuting U.S. soldiers – our heroes in the war on terror – for war crimes.“The same ICC that has repeatedly attempted to wrongfully prosecute Israeli soldiers for defending the Israeli people now has its targets set on American heroes. Our soldiers have bravely fought for our freedom – and the freedom of so many around the globe.
“This attack on the brave men and women of our military must not be allowed to stand. The ICC has no jurisdiction over our soldiers. We’ve beaten back these kinds of attacks directly at the ICC before. Now we’re engaged in the biggest international case we’ve ever taken on. We’re preparing to deliver critical oral arguments and a crucial amicus brief to defend our military from unfounded attacks at the supreme court level of the ICC.
“Our brave soldiers need you. Defend those who defend us.” (Editor’s Note: To sign the petition go to: https://aclj.org/us-military/dont-prosecute-our-soldiers-defend-our-heroes.)
The United States Department of State United States Department argues that there are “insufficient checks and balances on the authority of the ICC prosecutor and judges” and “insufficient protection against politicized prosecutions or other abuses”. The current law in the United States on the ICC is the American Service-Members’ Protection Act (ASPA), 116 Stat. 820, The ASPA authorizes the President of the United States to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any U.S. or allied personnel being detained or imprisoned by, on behalf of, or at the request of the International Criminal Court.” This authorization has led the act to be nicknamed the “Hague Invasion Act”, because the freeing of U.S. citizens by force might be possible only through military action.
On September 10, 2018, John R. Bolton, in his first major address as U.S. National Security Advisor, reiterated that the ICC lacks checks and balances, exercises “jurisdiction over crimes that have disputed and ambiguous definitions,” and has failed to “deter and punish atrocity crimes.” The ICC, said Bolton, is “superfluous” given that “domestic judicial systems already hold American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards.” He added that the U.S. would do everything “to protect our citizens” should the ICC attempt to prosecute U.S. servicemen over alleged detainee abuse in Afghanistan. In that event, ICC judges and prosecutors would be barred from entering the U.S., their funds in the U.S. would be sanctioned and the U.S. “will prosecute them in the US criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans”, Bolton said. He also criticized Palestinian efforts to bring Israel before the ICC over allegations of human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza.
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].