ICC declines to investigate US troops in Afghanistan

International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

On Friday, a panel of ICC judges rejected a request by the court's prosecutor to investigate war crimes alleged to have been in Afghanistan by the US military and intelligence services. US President Donald Trump praised the decision.

"This is a major international victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law," he said in a statement.

Trump noted the United States has "consistently declined" to join the court because of the court's "broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers" and "the threat it poses to American sovereignty," as well as other factors that the White House considers "deficiencies that render it illegitimate."

"Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response," the U.S. president said.

In a separate statement Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said such an investigation "would not serve the interests of justice." 

He called it "a victory for the rule of law and the integrity of the ICC as an institution, given that the United States is not subject to the ICC's jurisdiction."

Washington signed, but never ratified, the Rome Statute that founded the tribunal in 2002. While the United States worked with the ICC under the Obama administration to bring Ugandan militants to justice, the Trump administration has been strongly critical of the organization.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd