Switzerland says that it regrets that the United States has adopted measures against officials of the International Criminal Court and threatened to impose further sanctions.
“The Court is independent and bound only by law. It must therefore not become the target of political measures,” said a press releaseexternal link issued by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) on Friday evening.
The move came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the US would revoke or deny visas to International Criminal Court personnel who attempt to investigate alleged abuses committed by US forces in Afghanistan.
In doing so, he made good on an earlier threat by the Trump administration to ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the United States and sanction funds they have there if the court launched a probe of war crimes in Afghanistan.
"These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allied consent," Pompeo said. He added that the policy was already being implemented but would not elaborate, citing visa privacy laws.
"These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts," he said. "We're prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its course."
Swiss ICC support
In its statement, Switzerland reiterated its support to the court “that makes an important contribution the prevention and punishment of the most serious crimes and provides justice for the victims. It thus plays a crucial role in securing sustainable peace and stability”.
It said that all states were obliged to prosecute and punish the most serious crimes. Only if they were unable or unwilling to do so may the ICC intervene. “With this in mind, Switzerland calls on the United States to ensure its own comprehensive prosecution.”
The court, which sits in The Hague, has already responded that it was an independent and impartial institution and would continue to do its work "undeterred" by Washington's actions.
The International Criminal Court is supported by 123 nations, including Switzerland. Its role is to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The United States has never been a member of the ICC.
AP/Reuters/Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs/ilj