The US has announced sanctions on the world’s top court for investigating possible US war crimes in Afghanistan.
Rabat – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced today sanctions on International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The US is implementing sanctions against court members for investigating alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan. The move follows a June 11 executive order by US President Donald Trump which some called an “attack” on the world’s top court.
More than half of the ICC’s members signed a statement on June 24 to defend the international institution based in The Hague. The ICC is a key component of the UN and members expressed their “unwavering support” for the court. The ICC generally investigates genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The US feels very differently about the court. Mike Pompeo called the ICC a “kangaroo court” for starting an investigation into US military personnel. “You could be next,” Pompeo warned NATO allies, many of whom are signatories and freely submit to ICC investigation. Attorney General William Barr even alleged he had incriminating information about “financial corruption and malfeasance in the prosecutor’s office.”
The US has not signed and ratified membership of the ICC and technically is “above the law.” Afghanistan, however, is a signatory. “The ICC may therefore exercise its jurisdiction over crimes listed in the Rome Statute committed on the territory of Afghanistan,” the court concluded.
The US disagrees and has now imposed unilateral sanctions on the ICC’s top prosecutor. The US had earlier announced it would block ICC members, including Bensouda, from entering the US in order to hamper its investigation. The US Treasury today added Bensouda and another top official to its list of Specially Designated Nationals, blocking their assets and relations with US citizens.
The ICC is investigating a vast array of alleged US war crimes committed in Afghanistan. The list includes “crimes against humanity of murder and imprisonment” as well as “war crimes of murder.” Further war crimes include “cruel treatment”, “carrying out of executions without proper judicial authority,” and “intentional attacks against civilians,” as well as “treacherously killing or wounding an enemy combatant.”