US lifts sanction against ICC chief prosecutor


The US sanction on the outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been lifted by President Joe Biden’s administration.

The court’s investigations into alleged war crimes by the US in Afghanistan, and US ally Israel in the Palestinian territories have prompted former President Donald Trump’s administration to sanction Ms. Bensouda.

“The sanctions were inappropriate and ineffective,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who announced the move and called for closer co-operation.

Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, was also removed from the Specially Designated Nationals list, and a separate 2019 policy on visa restrictions on specific ICC personnel has been terminated.

In a statement, Mr. Blinken said Washington continued to “disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations”, and that it objected to the ICC’s “efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel”.

“We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions,” he said.

He added that the US was encouraged by reforms being considered to help the ICC “prioritise its resources and to achieve its core mission of serving as a court of last resort in punishing and deterring atrocity crimes”.

Last year, the Trump administration accused the ICC of infringing on the US’s national sovereignty when it launched its investigation into potential war crimes committed by US troops, the Taliban and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.

Announcing the sanctions, Mr. Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo called the court a “thoroughly broken and corrupted institution”.

The ICC responded that the sanctions were an attack on international justice and the rule of law.

Ms. Bensouda is due to end her office term in June, and will be succeeded by British human rights lawyer Karim Khan. (Source: BBC)