The U.S. government has fulfilled an earlier threat of sanctions against employees of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Secretary of State Pompeo says that the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, has been blacklisted. Pompeo calls the ICC a “broken and corrupt institute”.
One of Bensouda’s employees, Phakiso Mochochoko, is also on the U.S. blacklist of persons who are seen as a threat to national security. Among other things, their assets can now be seized in the US. People and companies doing business with them could get into trouble.
Visa restrictions have been imposed on a number of other staff members of the ICC. Those restrictions already applied to Bensouda. She is only allowed to enter the U.S. to visit the United Nations in New York.
War Crimes Afghanistan
The main reason for the sanctions is the decision of the Criminal Court to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan from 2003 onwards. The Court not only focuses on the Taliban and the Afghan authorities, but also on the American army and American secret services.
Chief Prosecutor Bensouda already said in 2017 that the U.S. military and intelligence services in Afghanistan have mistreated, tortured and humiliated prisoners, especially in the period 2003-2004.
That the Americans are being sued by the ICC, which is not recognized by the US itself, is against the sore leg of the Trump government. Therefore, the president already signed a decree in June which made sanctions against employees of the ICC possible.
Furthermore, the U.S. government does not want the ICC to investigate whether Israelis have committed crimes against Palestinians. Bensouda announced that investigation at the end of last year. The Americans don’t think the Court is about that.
Human rights organisations have condemned the American actions against the ICC. Humans Right Watch calls it “perverse” that sanctions intended to punish criminals are now being used against those who prosecute international criminals.
Secretary of State Blok says he is disappointed with the American measures against the Criminal Court. “The Netherlands continues to support the independence of the ICC, and its fight against injustice. Within the EU we are investigating how we can best help the ICC”. Earlier this year Blok threatened with countermeasures.