US President Donald Trump has ordered sanctions against representatives of the International Criminal Court and others involved in the investigation of a war crime in Afghanistan by the US military, Reuters reported.
“The actions of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to violate our national sovereignty,” the White House said in a statement.
Reuters quoted a senior official in the Trump administration as saying that the ICC was pressuring an organization with dubious integrity, and that Russia had a role to play in those actions.
Trump’s order entitles Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, to block US assets involving ICC officials involved in the investigation. It also allows US visas not to be issued to these individuals and their families.
Trump has long attacked the Hague-based ICC, which was created to investigate and punish perpetrators of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It has jurisdiction if a Member State is unable or unwilling to investigate these crimes itself.
Afghanistan is a member of the ICC, but Kabul says war crimes should be investigated in the country.
The United States is not a party to the ICC treaty that went into effect in 2002. The Trump administration imposed restrictions and other sanctions on ICC staff a year ago.
The ICC decided to launch an investigation after an investigation by the prosecutor’s office in 2017 found that there were reasonable allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan and that the court had jurisdiction over them.
A spokesman for the administration said the Trump sanctions order applies to any individual involved in the ICC’s efforts to investigate U.S. personnel without US consent.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including the mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as allegations of torture of prisoners by the Afghan authorities, and to a lesser extent by USA and CIA.
“We have reason to believe that there is high-level corruption and mismanagement in the ICC prosecutor’s office, which calls into question the objectivity of such an investigation by American staff. “We are concerned that Russia may have manipulated the ICC by encouraging such allegations about US personnel,” said a spokesman for the Trump administration.
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