On September 2nd, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would sanctions officials from the International Criminal Court for investigating US citizens.
The sanctions are directed at Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction Phakiso Mochochoko who were both added to the Treasury Department’s “Specially Designated Nationals” list.
The U.S. has never been a part of the ICC, which Pompeo called “a thoroughly broken and corrupt institution” and said “We will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.”
This is a result of an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump back in June 2020.
In March, the ICC moved forward with its investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, including those allegedly committed by U.S. forces and the CIA.
According to court documents [pdf], ICC Prosecutor Bensouda plans to investigate alleged Taliban attacks against civilians, including murders and abductions.
Bensouda also wants to look into methods that the U.S. military and CIA used to interrogate detainees. The prosecution has said, ‘There is reasonable basis to believe that, since May 2003, members of the US armed forces and the CIA have committed the war crimes of torture and cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and rape and other forms of sexual violence pursuant to a policy approved by US authorities.
The sanctions were denounced by the ICC. According to the international body, these sanctions were “unprecedented”.
The ICC said in a statement the new measures “are another attempt to interfere with the Court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence and crucial work to address grave crimes of concern to the international community”.
The war crimes court said it “continues to stand firmly by its personnel and its mission of fighting impunity for the world’s most serious crimes”.
The ICC will continue its investigation into possible war crimes by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan.
The State Department also restricted the issuance of visas for individuals Pompeo said were involved in the court’s efforts to investigate US personnel, though he did not name those affected.
Member countries of the International Criminal Court hit out against the “unacceptable” sanctions.
“I strongly reject such unprecedented and unacceptable measures against a treaty-based international organisation,” said O-Gon Kwon, president of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties.
Dujarric said that “we trust that any restriction taken against individuals will be implemented consistently” with the UN’s deal for the US to host the headquarters in New York.
What doe these people have in common?
Myanmar generals accused of atrocities
Saudi officials linked to Jamal Khashoggi's murder
President Assad for mass abuses in Syria
ICC prosecutors investigating war crimes
The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on all of them. pic.twitter.com/Xdb0Za9U63
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) September 2, 2020
Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch international justice director, said it was a “stunning perversion of US sanctions.”
“The Trump administration has twisted these sanctions to obstruct justice, not only for certain war crimes victims, but for atrocity victims anywhere looking to the International Criminal Court for justice,” he said.
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