• In March, judges at the ICC gave prosecutors the go-ahead to look into possible torture and other war crimes.
When Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto were indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the US and European power openly advocated for their electoral defeat.
And when the duo were declared the winners in the March 2013 election, the US and the UK gave only lukewarm congratulations.
The US said it would only maintain essential contact with Kenya diplomatically. That would then see then US Ambassador sent to Kenya Robert Godec spend more than six months in Nairobi before Uhuru received his credentials.
And so strained were the relations with the US that when President Barack Obama embarked on a tour of Africa in June and July of 2013, he did not visit Kenya, his father’s home country.
This is despite the US not being a member of The Hague court, though it participated in the negotiations that led to the creation of the court.
US President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Statute in 2000 but did not submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. In 2002, President George W. Bush effectively “unsigned” the treaty, sending a note to the United Nations secretary-general that the US no longer intended to ratify the treaty.
However, according to Human Rights Watch, there are limited situations in which the ICC has jurisdiction over the nationals of sates such as the US, which are not members of The Hague court.
“This includes when a citizen of a non-member country commits war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide on the territory of an ICC member country. That’s why US citizens may be subject to the court’s jurisdiction as it investigates alleged grave crimes that took place in Afghanistan, which is a state party, or in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, which are also states parties,” Human Rights Watch says.
Now that the court seeks to investigate alleged atrocities by US soldiers in Afghanistan, the country has launched a sustained attack on it.
In March, ICC judges gave prosecutors the go-ahead to look into possible torture and other war crimes.
“As US investigations by the military, by the Congress make clear, United States citizens did commit serious violations of international law,” Katherine Gallagher, who represents two individuals detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp without charge, said.
“But we’ve seen for the past two decades no investigations and no prosecutions of senior US officials.”
Therefore, Gallagher said it’s appropriate for the ICC to be investigating US military members.
“The essence of an America First foreign policy is protecting our servicemen and women who put their lives on the line in defense of freedom. We will not stand idly by if the ICC follows through with its ideological crusade against American service members,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.
He added that the ICC cannot subject Americans to arrest, prosecution, and jail.
“The US. is not a party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC. Even if a prosecution were to proceed, it would make a mockery of due process. We cannot allow ICC officials and their families come to the US to shop, travel, and otherwise enjoy American freedoms as these same officials seek to prosecute the defenders of those freedoms,” he added.
He termed the ICC as a Kangaroo Court, saying the US holds their own accountable better than the international court has done for the worst perpetrators.
“We cannot – and will not – stand idly by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” he said.
ICC ON ISRAEL
He further accused the ICC of political motivated cases against Israel, which has been accused of atrocities against Palestine.
“Given Israel’s robust civilian and military legal system, and strong track record of investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing by military personnel, it’s clear the ICC is only putting Israel in its crosshairs for nakedly political reasons,” he claimed.
In December last year, ICC chief prosecutor said she would launch a full investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories as soon as its jurisdiction is established.
Fatou Bensouda said a preliminary examination into alleged war crimes, opened in 2015, had provided enough evidence to meet all criteria for opening an investigation.
But while Palestine welcomed the decision, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose country captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a 1967 war, said the ICC had no jurisdiction to investigate the atrocities.
Pompeo just said “it’s a mockery of justice”.