The Trump Administration has levied sanctions against the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who currently is investigating allegations that U.S. troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Pompeo also announced sanctions against and the ICC’s Head of Jurisdiction, Complementary, and Cooperation Division Phakiso Mochochoko “for having materially assisted Prosecutor Bensouda.”
“Individuals and entities that continue to materially support those individuals risk exposure to sanctions as well,” he stated. “Additionally, the State Department has restricted the issuance of visas for certain individuals involved in the ICC’s efforts to investigate U.S. personnel.”
The ICC refutes the Trump administration’s claims, calling the sanctions “coercive.”
“These coercive acts, directed at an international judicial institution and its civil servants, are unprecedented and constitute serious attacks against the Court, the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, and the rule of law more generally,” the ICC said in a statement.
O-Gon Kwon, the Assembly of States Parties president, released a separate statement condemning the move.
“They only serve to weaken our common endeavor to fight impunity for mass atrocities,” Kwon said.
“We stand by our Court and its staff as well as those cooperating with it in implementing its judicial mandate. A meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly will take place shortly to consider the measures imposed by the United States and ways to give effect to our unstinting support for the Court.”
Richard Dicker, the international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said that the resolution “marks a stunning perversion of U.S. sanctions, devised to penalize rights abusers and kleptocrats, to persecute those tasked with prosecuting international crimes”.
“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,” Dicker said.