The United States has officially sanctioned International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for investigating war crimes committed by the US and its allies. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also said that Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, had also been blacklisted.
Sanctions targeting the ICC were authorized by US President Donald Trump last June. The sanctions allow for an assets freeze and travel bans.
“Today we take the next step, because the ICC continues to target Americans, sadly,” Pompeo told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the ICC’s investigation of US forces’ committing of war crimes in Afghanistan.
“Pompeo also said that individuals and entities that continue to materially support Bensouda and Mochochoko would risk exposure to sanctions as well,” Reuters reported.
Israeli leaders welcomed the US decision, which is also motivated by the ICC’s expected investigation of Israeli crimes in occupied Palestine.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the US for its anti-ICC move, describing the International Court as a “corrupt and biased .. kangaroo court”.
Netanyahu said that the ICC is a “politicized court obsessed with conducting witch hunts against Israel, the United States and other democracies that respect human rights.”
The ICC slammed the ‘unprecedented’ US sanctions, which it says aim to “interfere with the Court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence,” Reuters also reported.
“Washington’s decision to carry out punitive measures against the very Court that was established for the sole purpose of holding war criminals accountable is both outrageous and abhorrent,” Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud wrote.
“It also exposes Washington’s hypocrisy – the country that claims to defend human rights is attempting to prevent legal accountability by those who have violated human rights,” Baroud added.
(The Palestine Chronicle)