08:15 GMT03 December 2020
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The United States’ decision to revoke visas and refuse to grant new ones to the staff of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague echoes the worst human rights abusers and totalitarian regimes, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a statement on Friday.

    "This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes," ACLU Human Rights Program Director Jamil Dakwar said in the statement. "It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers."

    Dakwar said the move was "a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses. We won’t rest until we get to the bottom of this."

    The remarks come after earlier on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration would revoke or deny visas to ICC personnel who attempted to investigate or prosecute alleged abuses committed by US forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

    The ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud all of whom were detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008, the ACLU statement noted.

    In the meantime, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a press briefing that the United Nations is studying the potential consequences of the United States' decision to deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel.

    “We have seen what the Secretary of State said this morning; we are taking a look at the implication,” Dujarric said.

    Last year, President Donald Trump told the United Nations General Assembly that the US would never surrender its sovereignty by supporting the ICC and would always regard it as an illegitimate global institution.

    The ICC, which is located in The Hague, Netherlands, was formed to investigate and prosecute war crimes and other crimes against humanity when national governments were unable to act. The United States has rejected the ICC since the body was first proposed during the Clinton administration, claiming it would be used by US enemies for politically motivated attacks against Americans serving overseas, especially US service members.

    After the court’s founding in 2002, Congress passed a law prohibiting US support for the ICC and also authorizing the government to use all necessary means to repatriate any American citizen detained by the court.


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