U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced sanctions on Fatou Bensouda, a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday, in response to her investigations into potential war crimes conducted by its troops in Afghanistan.
Phakiso Mochochoko, director of ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementary and Cooperation Division, was also slapped with sanctions for “”having materially assisted prosecutor Bensouda.”
Furthermore, visa restrictions and broader sanctions could be applied to those helping the two ICC employees.
In June, President Donald Trump had issued an executive order authorizing economic sanctions and travel restrictions against workers from the ICC investigating alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan.
The Hague-based tribunal condemned the economic sanctions and called it another attempt by the U.S. to “interfere with the Court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence and crucial work to address grave crimes of concern to the international community.”
“These coercive acts, directed at an international judicial institution and its civil servants, are unprecedented and constitute serious attacks against the Court, the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice, and the rule of law more generally,” they said in their statement.
UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the Secretary-General António Guterres was following the situation closely.
“We trust that any restrictions taken against individuals would be implemented consistently” with the U.S.’s agreement with the U.N. to hold the international body’s headquarters in New York, Dujarric said.
The investigation into alleged wartime atrocities in Afghanistan was initiated in March 2020. Bensouda was looking into crimes committed against humanity and war crimes by the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and by members of the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) since 2003.