The Hague — The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Tuesday its work will continue "undeterred" after Washington threatened to prosecute its officials if Americans are charged with war crimes committed in Afghanistan.

"The ICC, as a court of law, will continue to do its work undeterred, in accordance with those principles and the overarching idea of the rule of law," the tribunal said.

The Hague-based court’s response comes a day after the US threatened to arrest and sanction court officials should they move to charge with war crimes any American who served in Afghanistan.

The White House’s national security adviser, John Bolton, called the Hague-based rights body "unaccountable" and "outright dangerous" to the US, Israel and other allies, and said any probe of US service members would be "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation".

"If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly," Bolton said.

The US is prepared to slap financial sanctions and criminal charges on officials of the court if they proceed against any Americans, he added.


In its response the ICC declared itself an "independent and impartial judicial institution".

It also stressed that it will only investigate and prosecute crimes when the states will not or cannot do so.

The Hague-based ICC was set up in 2002 with jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the world’s worst crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The court, however, does not have the capacity to arrest suspects and depends on member states for their co-operation.

The US has not signed up to the court and in 2002 the Congress passed a law enabling Washington to invade the Netherlands to liberate any US citizen held by the court.