Omar asks Blinken about ICC pursuing war crime allegations

During the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Monday, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken about where victims of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity could pursue justice if local courts won’t look into those cases and the U.S. opposes the International Criminal Court taking such cases in the Afghanistan and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

Video Transcript

ILHAN OMAR: I know you oppose the court's investigation in both Palestine and in Afghanistan. I haven't seen any evidence in either cases that domestic courts both can and will prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. And I would emphasize that in Israel and Palestine, this includes crimes committed by both the Israeli security forces and Hamas. In Afghanistan it includes crimes committed by the Afghan national government and the Taliban. So in both of these cases, if domestic courts can't or won't pursue justice, and we oppose the ICC, where do we think the victims of the supposed crimes can go for justice? And what justice mechanism is [INAUDIBLE] for.

ANTONY BLINKEN: I'm sorry, Congresswoman, I lost you for one second there at the end of your question. Could you repeat that please?

ILHAN OMAR: Yeah. I said, in both of these cases, if domestic courts can't or won't pursue justice and we oppose the ICC, where do we think victims are supposed to go for justice? And what justice mechanisms do you support for them?

ANTONY BLINKEN: Thank you. First, let me just say at the outset that it is impossible not to be profoundly moved by not just the loss of life in the recent violence and conflict but especially the children whose lives were lost. And we all have a tendency to throw statistics and numbers out there, but we are talking about boys and girls, Israelis and Palestinians, as well as men and women. And I think none of us, from whatever perspective we come, can lose sight of that. So that's one thing that's very important. Look, you know our views on the ICC and its jurisdiction. We continue to believe that absent a Security Council referral or absent the request by the state itself, that that's not appropriate. I continue to believe that whether it is the United States or Israel, both of us have the means.

ILHAN OMAR: Mr. Secretary, I do understand that [INAUDIBLE] point. I'm asking what mechanism do you think is available to them?

ANTONY BLINKEN: I believe that we have, whether it's the United States or Israel, we both have the mechanisms to make sure that there is accountability in any situations where there are concerns about the use of force and human rights, et cetera. I believe that both of our democracies have that capacity. And we've demonstrated it. And we'll need to continue to demonstrate it going forward.

ILHAN OMAR: And in the case of Afghanistan?

ANTONY BLINKEN: With regard to Afghanistan, if it's our objection, as you know, it was to the assertion of jurisdiction over the United States in the absence of a Security Council referral, and I believe that we have the means, if there are any cases to be brought, to adjudicate them and to find justice.