Already engaged in an unprecedented offensive against the International Criminal Court, Donald Trump further raised his tone on Thursday by announcing economic sanctions to dissuade the jurisdiction from prosecuting American soldiers for their involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan.
“The president has authorized economic sanctions against officials of the International Criminal Court who would take a direct part in any effort to investigate or charge American soldiers without the consent of the United States,” the White House announced in a statement.
“We can’t just sit idly by while our guys are threatened by a phony court – and we won’t,” said American Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, adding to his colleagues Defense and Justice as well as the Presidential National Security Advisor during a media show of force.
This is a direct response to the appeal decision made in March by the court in The Hague, the Netherlands, to authorize the opening of an investigation into war crimes and crimes against the humanity in Afghanistan despite opposition from the Trump administration.
Mike Pompeo at the time denounced an “ill-considered” decision, especially since it came “only a few days” after the signing of a historic agreement between the United States and the Afghan Taliban.
Among other things, the investigation wished by the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, concerns atrocities allegedly committed by American soldiers in the country where the United States has been waging the longest war since 2001, since 2001. Allegations of torture have also been made against the CIA.
“This attack on the ICC aims to deny justice to the victims of serious crimes in Afghanistan, Israel or Palestine,” said Andrea Prasow of Human Rights Watch. “Countries that support international justice should publicly oppose this blatant attempt at obstruction. “
“Manipulations” of Moscow
The ICC judges initially refused to authorize this investigation after an unprecedented first threat of sanctions from Washington, which is not a member of this jurisdiction – unlike Kabul.
President Trump also authorized the extension of visa restrictions on officials and their families on Thursday. Prosecutor Bensouda’s US visa had already been revoked after the first threats of US sanctions.
At the time, the ICC, responsible for judging in particular war crimes and crimes against humanity, had assured that it was “committed to the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate” and “act strictly within the legal framework defined by the Statute from Rome “.
This treaty entered into force in 2002 and has since been ratified by more than 120 countries.
The White House said it had “repeatedly rejected” the ICC’s attempts to expand jurisdiction over the US military.
“The acts of the International Criminal Court constitute an attack on the rights of the American people and threaten to encroach on our national sovereignty”, said the American presidency, denouncing also “corruption” at the “highest levels” of the tribunal of The Hague, particularly within the prosecutor’s office.
Washington’s fierce opposition also concerns “politically motivated” investigations against Israel, which may be the subject of war crimes investigations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Dramatizing the issue, Justice Minister Bill Barr accused “foreign powers like Russia” of “manipulating” the ICC “to serve their own interests”. White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the foreign “manipulations” are specifically aimed at “encouraging” prosecutions against the US military in Afghanistan.
“The United States will continue to use any means necessary to protect its citizens and our allies from unjust charges,” said the White House.