The International Criminal Court based in The Hague has condemned a United States decision to impose economic sanctions on Gambian native Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, and an associate in retaliation for the ICC’s plans to investigate possible U.S. war crimes.
The ICC said the decision, announced Wednesday by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, constitutes “another attempt to interfere with the Court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence and crucial work” in investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“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 added in its statement.
The United States has never been a party to the Rome Statute, which establishes ICC authority – an authority often challenged by African nations including Burundi, Sudan and The Gambia itself. Many African leaders argue that the ICC targets their nations while ignoring the potential war crimes committed by nations like the U.S.
Pompeo called the court “a thoroughly broken and corrupted institution” and said the U.S. “will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.”
In addition to Bensouda, the U.S. imposed sanctions on Phakiso Mochochoko, the ICC’s Head of Jurisdiction, Complementary, and Cooperation Division, for having materially assisted Prosecutor Bensouda.
“Individuals and entities that continue to materially support those individuals risk exposure to sanctions as well,” Pompeo warned. The U.S. Department of State also is restricting visa access for those who are part of the ICC effort to investigate U.S. personnel.
Image: ICC file