First sanctions of Washington against the international criminal Court

Premières sanctions de Washington contre la Cour pénale internationale

The United States has set Friday to run their unprecedented threat against the international criminal Court (ICC), in announcing the visa restrictions in an attempt to prevent any enquiry by the institution against the u.s. military, including in Afghanistan.

“Today I am announcing a policy of visa restrictions americans against the persons directly responsible for any investigation of the ICC against u.s. military”, said the head of american diplomacy Mike Pompeo in front of the press. “This includes people who take or have taken steps to request or implement such an investigation”, he added.

He assured that the first visa bans had already been imposed, without revealing the number or targets, but these punitive measures seem to be able to relate in particular to Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the institution’s headquarters in The Hague, the netherlands.

Beginning November 2017, it was announced that she was going to ask the judges for authorization to open an investigation into war crimes alleged to have been committed in the context of the afghan conflict, including by the american army.

In an attack with a virulence unprecedented against this international court to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity, of which Washington is not a member, the White House had threatened last September by judges or attorneys to sanctions if they targeted Americans or Israel.

However, this demand of inquiry is still in progress, ” said Mike Pompeo.

“If you’re in charge of the investigation envisaged by the ICC on u.s. military in connection with the situation in Afghanistan, you should not expect to still have or be able to obtain a visa or to be allowed to enter the United States”, has he hammered.

The judicial institution “will continue to do his work independently, without being discouraged, in keeping with its mandate,” responded Friday to the ICC in a press release.

– “Impunity” to the “executioners” –

As promised in September, the visa bans “can also be used to deter the efforts of the ICC to prosecute members of the military of allied countries, including Israel, without the consent of the allies”, warned Mike Pompeo.

And the american secretary of State has also threatened to take “additional measures, including economic sanctions, if the ICC does not change its attitude.”

The international criminal Court is governed by the Rome Statute, a treaty which entered into force on 1 July 2002 and ratified by 123 countries. His attorney may initiate its own investigations without permission of the judges, provided that they involve at least one member country — this is the case of Afghanistan.

Relations between Washington and the court have always been tumultuous. The United States refused to adhere to it and have done everything possible, including through bilateral agreements with numerous countries, to ensure that Americans could be targeted by its investigations.

But the administration of Donald Trump, elected on the slogan “America First”, or “America first”, was pushed to the extreme, the distrust of multi-lateral institutions, and erected the ICC as a symbol of a world order that it wants to mess with.

“We will not cooperate with the ICC, we will not provide assistance, we will not join the ICC. We will leave the ICC to die a natural death” because “for us, the ICC is already dead”, was launched in September the presidential adviser to the national security, John Bolton.

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch has denounced Friday as “an attempt to brutally punish the investigators of the ICC for the simple reason that they are doing their job, namely to investigate war crimes”. This “sends a clear message to the torturers and murderers: their crimes can continue with impunity,” said Andrea Prasow, from his Washington office.

For Stephen Pumping, of the conflict prevention organisation the International Crisis Group, “the United States should work to track down the war criminals, not to intimidate the prosecutors”. “It undermines really the legitimacy of u.s. sanctions,” said the former adviser to democrat Barack Obama in the White House.