The decision of the U.S. government to place sanctions on International Criminal Court officials constitutes a serious attack against the court, the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, and the rule of law, the ICC have said.
The ICC in a statement Thursday described the U.S. government’s move as “coercive” and “unprecedented.”
The U.S. on Wednesday announced it is placing sanctions on Fatou Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, and Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of jurisdiction division, over the continued investigations of U.S. citizens.
According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, since the U.S. was not part of the ICC, the investigations were “illegitimate.”
In 2020, the Trump administration began to impose economic sanctions on ICC employees involved in investigating U.S. troops for potential war crimes in Afghanistan.
The ICC said the sanctions 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.”
“The Court continues to stand firmly by its personnel and its mission of fighting impunity for the world’s most serious crimes under international law, independently and impartially, in accordance with its mandate.]
“In doing so, the Court benefits from the strong support and commitment of two-thirds of the world’s States which are parties to the Rome Statute.”
The ICC was established in 2002 to investigate and, where necessary, try individuals charged with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crimes of aggression. The Court currently comprises 123 countries which give it authority, under the Rome Statute, its founding treaty, to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by their nationals or by anyone on their territory.
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