The Trump administration has sanctioned the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) chief prosecutor and one of its top officials while the court investigates alleged war crimes by the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the ICC a “thoroughly broken and corrupted institution" as he announced the penalty against chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and ICC head of jurisdiction Phakiso Mochochoko. Pompeo blamed Mochochoko for “having materially assisted” Bensouda.
“The United States has never ratified the Rome Statute that created the court, and we will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction,” Pompeo said during a news conference.
In 2019, the Trump administration revoked Bensouda’s visa. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing sanctions toward ICC officials investigating U.S. troops who were in Afghanistan.
In 2017, Bensouda asked the court to probe allegations against U.S. troops in Afghanistan following a preliminary investigation in 2006. In March, the court greenlit the investigation.
The Trump administration has also railed against the ICC for its ongoing preliminary investigation into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, including Israel’s settlement policy.
Officials in the Trump administration have said the investigation is being organized by critics of the president in the United States.
"The Trump administration's decision to enact sanctions against senior ICC staff is another brazen attack against international justice,” Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.
“The court is made up of legal professionals who have dedicated their professional lives in pursuit of justice for victims and survivors of some of the most horrific crimes, including crimes against humanity. They should be commended for their commitment, not subjected to a punitive campaign of intimidation. Grotesquely, the White House’s actions may dissuade survivors of human rights abuses from demanding justice, and create a chilling effect on those who would support their efforts.”
On Wednesday, the ICC decried US actions stating that, "The new measures, announced pursuant to the US Executive Order 13928 dated 11 June 2020, 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 as mandated under the ICC Rome Statute."
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