EU foreign policy chief opposes US sanctions on ICC

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The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Tuesday said moves by President Trump to sanction officials associated with the International Criminal Court (ICC) are “unacceptable and unprecedented.”

“The European Union expresses grave concern about the announced measures and reconfirms its unwavering support for the International Criminal Court,” Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a statement.

“Sanctions against those involved in the work of the ICC, its staff and their families as well as persons associated with the ICC are unacceptable and unprecedented in scope and content,” he continued.

The statement came in response to moves by the Trump administration to place broad restrictions on ICC officials and their families related to investigations into alleged American war crimes in Afghanistan.

Borrell said that the ICC “must be able to work independently and impartially” and urged the U.S. to “reverse its position.”

Trump last week signed an executive order that allows the U.S. to impose sanctions on ICC officials who are believed to be pursuing efforts to investigate, detain or prosecute Americans without the permission of the U.S.

The sanctions will also apply to ICC officials who investigate American allies without their permission.

The sanctions, which are likely to include banning entry to the U.S. and restrictions on assets in the country, can also extend to family members of ICC officials.

“It gives us no joy to punish them,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week during a press conference announcing the sanctions. “But we cannot allow ICC officials and their families to come to the United States to shop and travel and otherwise enjoy American freedoms as these same officials seek to prosecute the defender of those very freedoms.”

The executive order came in response to a March decision by an appeals court within the ICC to allow its prosecutor to move ahead on investigating alleged war crimes committed by U.S. service members in Afghanistan.

The U.S. argues that any investigations into alleged crimes committed by American soldiers should be handled by American courts, and is outside the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Administration officials also allege that the international court is compromised by financial corruption, malfeasance and is under the influence of U.S. adversaries, but have yet to offer any evidence. 

The ICC is generally limited to investigating countries that have signed onto the Rome Statute, which the U.S. is not party to. The United Nations Security Council can refer investigations to the ICC, but the U.S. veto power allows for those moves to be struck down.

U.S. officials have yet to announce individuals the sanctions will apply to and the extent of the specific restrictions.

Tags Donald Trump European Union ICC International Criminal Court Mike Pompeo sanctions
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