Thursday, 05 December, 2019


USA revokes ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's entry visa over war probes

International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was denied entry into the United States. File International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was denied entry into the United States. File
Bennie Garza | 07 April, 2019, 21:00

The US has revoked the visa of the International Criminal Court's (ICC) chief prosecutor in response to her intention to probe potential war crimes by American soldiers in Afghanistan, the media reported.

The United States, Russia, China, Israel and Iraq are among several nations which did not ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Washington has criticised the ICC since the body was first introduced during the Clinton administration, claiming it would be used by enemies of the United States for politically motivated attacks against Americans serving overseas, especially United States service members.

In ligjht of the USA visa threats, the office of the ICC chief prosecutor had refused to budge in the face of this latest punitive move by Washington.

Bensouda would also continue to exercise her duties "without fear or favour", the office of the prosecutor said.

In a statement confirming the revocation, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda's office stressed that she "has an independent and impartial mandate" under the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute.

"We're prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the ICC does not change its course", he added.

The US decision was not expected to impact Bensouda if she is traveling to the United Nations in NY where she gives regular briefings to the UN Security Council on investigation, it said.

Bensouda's office said Friday that U.S. authorities revoked the prosecutor's visa for entry into the United States, and a U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed the action.

Last month, Pompeo had further noted that the visa restrictions "may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursed allied personnel including Israelis without allies' consent".

Those crimes were believed to have been committed by the Taliban, Afghan government forces and global forces, including USA troops.

She has been investigating USA forces and their allies in Afghanistan, a move that United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned last month could lead to sanctions on ICC officials.

The request says there is information that members of the USA military and intelligence agencies "committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period". It also drew criticism from within the European Union.

United Nations human rights experts called the reaction "improper interference" in the work of the world's permanent war crimes court.

Over the last two years, the Gambian lawyer has been probing US-led war crimes in Afghanistan but has not yet opened a formal investigation into alleged atrocities conducted over the last 18 years.

The ICC prosecutor in 2017 requested from judges at the court to authorize an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The United States in not a member of the ICC, along with Russian Federation and China.

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