US withdraws sanctions against International Criminal Court | International news and analysis | DW

The United States has lifted sanctions against Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The decision is part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to reverse the previous government’s series of aggressive measures against international institutions.

In 2020 Donald Trump’s administration imposed a financial embargo and suspended the visa for the U.S. to the Gambian-born jurist, after she opened an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by American military personnel in Afghanistan.

Similar punishments were applied to Phakiso Mochochoko, director of the ICC’s Department of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation, as well as other officials of the ICC.

The court based in The Hague, The Netherlands, also initiated action against Israel, a US ally, for war crimes in Palestinian territories. Irritated by the investigations, then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo labeled the ICC a “kangaroo court” (unlawful court), accusing it of violating American national sovereignty.

“New phase in the fight against impunity”

In announcing the withdrawal of all punitive measures from Trump on Friday (3/04), Secretary of State Antony Blinken explained that an analysis had concluded that they were “inappropriate and ineffective”.

On the other hand, in his formal announcement, the current head of state, Democrat Joe Biden, emphasized that he “will vigorously protect current and past United States personnel” from any attempts by the ICC to prosecute them.

Diplomatic chief Blinken also noted that the United States continues to “strongly disagree” with the Court’s initiatives in Afghanistan and Palestine. “We believe, however, that it will be better to address our concerns about these cases by engaging with all parties involved in the ICC process, rather than imposing sanctions.”

A spokesman for the international legal institution said that it and its oversight body, the Assembly of States Parties, welcomed the decision. The Assembly’s president, Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, expressed hope that she “signals the beginning of a new phase in our joint project to combat impunity”.

The suspension of sanctions will contribute to “strengthening the work of the Court and, more generally, promoting international order based on rules,” added De Gurmendi.

USA resist ICC

Washington is not a member of the ICC nor is it a signatory to the Rome Statute, an international treaty that created the court on July 1, 2002. Although the American Democratic presidencies give a lot of support to the body, the Republican opposition is fierce.

In 2002, during the administration of George W. Bush, the United States passed a law authorizing the use of military force to release any American official detained by the court, theoretically giving the president the authority to invade the Netherlands, a country that is an ally of the Organization. North Atlantic Treaty (NATO).

The International Criminal Court adjudicates individual offenses and should not be confused with the International Court of Justice, a United Nations body, commonly called the Hague Court, which decides on disputes between States.

by (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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