EU says US sanctions on ICC ‘unacceptable’

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The European Union’s chief diplomat on Thursday said U.S. moves to sanction top officials with the International Criminal Court (ICC) are “unacceptable” and “unprecedented measures” meant to obstruct the court’s official duties.

E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell was responding to moves by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday that put sanctions on the ICC’s top prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko. 

“The sanctions announced by the United States administration on 2 September against two Court staff members, including its Prosecutor, are unacceptable and unprecedented measures that attempt to obstruct the Court’s investigations and judicial proceedings,” Borrell said in a statement.

“The ICC must be able to work independently and impartially, free from outside interference. The United States should reconsider its position and reverse the measures it has taken. Impunity must never be an option,” he said.

The Trump administration has targeted ICC officials and those aiding investigations for sanctions and visa restrictions over the court’s pursuit of investigations into allegations of American service members committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

Pompeo on Wednesday called the body a “thoroughly broken and corrupted institution.” He argued that the ICC is outside its jurisdiction in trying to investigate American service members because the U.S. is not a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the court.

“The United States has never ratified the Rome Statute that created the court, and we will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction,” he said.

The international judicial body has also come under the criticism of bipartisan members of Congress, denounced as launching politically motivated investigations of Israel and alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories, including targeting Israel’s settlements in the West Bank.

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