The US sanctions against some International Criminal Court (ICC) officials were widely criticized by the international fora.
The restrictions were announced against those ICC officials who investigate possible war crimes committed by the US troops in Afghanistan. Commenting on the White House’s decision later on Thursday, the ICC has issued a statement. The ICC insists that the US attacks “constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.”
On Thursday, the White House said as well that US President Trump has approved economic sanctions against ICC officials “directly engaged with any effort to investigate or prosecute United States personnel without the consent of the United States.” The US leader also authorized the expansion of visa restrictions against these officials and their family members.
Noting that the U.S. sanctions represent “an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice,” the ICC, which has 123 member states, vowed it would stand firmly by its staff and remain “unwavering in its commitment to discharging, independently and impartially, the mandate bestowed upon it by the Rome Statute and the States that are party to it.”
Following both sides’ statements, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that it is deeply concerned over the United States’ planned sanctions, Xinhua reports.
“The independence of the ICC and its ability to operate without interference must be guaranteed so that it can decide matters without any improper influence, inducement, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reasons,” the UN official told a briefing.
According to the Court, victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law and their families have the right to redress and the truth.
Both French and German Foreign Ministries expressed its deep concern over the Washington decision. These nations are among the strongest supporters of the ICC, they announced rejection of any attempts to put pressure on the independent court, its staff, and those who work with it.
In his efforts to calm the situation, the French Foreign Ministry on Friday urged the White House to refrain from implementing measures targeting ICC officials.
The U.S. decision “represents a serious attack on the Court and the States Parties to the Rome Statute, and beyond that, a challenge to multilateralism and judicial independence,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement published on the ministry’s website.
The ICC in March authorized an investigation into possible war crimes in Afghanistan, including those that may have been committed by the US military and the Central Intelligence Agency, which could lead to the indictment of US military and intelligence personnel.