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Despite ICC Warning That Intimidation Is Criminal, Congressmembers Move To Sanction ICC

Rep. Michael McCaul want to sanction the ICC. Credit: CC/Ed Schipul

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Karim Khan included in yesterday’s filing for arrest warrants against three Hamas leaders and two Israeli leaders, an explicit warning to anyone who tries to intimidate or threaten the court will face prosecution. The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul (R-TX), told Axios yesterday that his committee is now drafting the legislation that they had previously threatened to sanction Khan and the ICC for filing for arrest warrants against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. And Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) posted yesterday on X, pledging to work “feverishly” in the Senate and the House to “levy damning sanctions against the ICC.”

Khan cited Article 70 of the Rome statute, titled “Offenses against the administration of justice.” In particular, it specifies the offense of intentionally: “Impeding, intimidating or corruptly influencing an official of the Court for the purpose of forcing or persuading the official not to perform, or to perform improperly, his or her duties.”

It explains: “In the event of conviction, the Court may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or a fine in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, or both.”

McCaul told Axios yesterday that their draft bill is based on a 2023 bill from Sen. Tom Cotton, who joined 11 other Republican senators in signing in May a letter threatening Khan that the U.S. is legally empowered to send military force into the ICC to rescue the named defendant under the 2002 “Hague Invasion Act.” The act asserts authority to use “all means necessary and appropriate” to defend any Americans—or allies—sought by the court.

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