ICC slams US sanctions over Afghanistan war crimes probe | News | DW | 12.06.2020
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ICC slams US sanctions over Afghanistan war crimes probe

The Trump administration has sanctioned International Criminal Court employees investigating whether US troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan. The ICC accused the US of trying to "interfere with the rule of law."

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday accused the United States government of threats and coercion after US President Donald Trump authorized sanctions against court employees investigating suspected war crimes in Afghanistan by US troops.

Earlier in the day, Trump signed an executive order stating that the United States would block the US property or assets of anyone from The Hague-based court investigating US troops.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement to reporters that the US would not "stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court." He also implied that other allies, especially NATO countries who cooperated with US troops in Afghanistan, "could be next."

The ICC called the sanctions "unprecedented" and accused the Trump administration of attempting to "interfere with the rule of law and the Court's judicial proceedings."

"They are announced with the declared aim of influencing the actions of ICC officials in the context of the Court's independent and objective investigations and impartial judicial proceedings," the court said in a statement.

Read moreWhy is the US in a rush to pull out troops from Afghanistan?

UN Torture Rapporteur: 'Trump is undermining the legal system'

The Trump administration is undermining the post-war international legal system that dates back to Nazi war crimes trials in Nuremberg by imposing sanctions on the International Criminal Court, said the UN's Special Rappoteur on Torture in an interview with DW News.

"The whole argument of the court being illegal, illegitimate and corrupt obviously is not a new argument," Nils Melzer told DW.

"The same argument has been made by the Nazis in Nuremberg — and by Slobodan Milosevic in the Yugoslavia tribunal. It has been made by Saddam Hussein in the tribunal for Iraq, and now it's being made Trump and Pompeo with regard to the ICC," Melzer added.

"The reality is that the United States does not prosecute these crimes when it's committed by its soldiers. We've seen the Senate Committee confirming a systematic policy of torture by the CIA," he said.

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The United Nations human rights office added its displeasure on Friday, saying it would hurt the justice, and answers, that victims and their families have the right to.

"The independence of the ICC and its ability to operate without interference must be guaranteed so that it can decide matters without any improper influence, inducement, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reasons," UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a UN briefing in Geneva.

Feuding investigations

The Trump administration has been irate over ICC probes into whether American troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan, arguing that the US has its own procedures to investigate accusations against its soldiers.

Last year, the administration revoked the American visa of the court's chief prosecutor, Gambian-born Fatou Bensouda, demanding that she end the Afghanistan investigations. However, ICC judges approved her investigation request in March after initially rejecting it.

Trump used his executive powers last year to pardon two US soldiers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq

ed,dv/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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