U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday (June 11) authorized economic and travel sanctions against International Criminal Court employees.
The executive order aims directly at those involved in investigating whether American troops committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "We cannot, we will not, stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court, and indeed, I have a message to many close allies around the world: your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fought terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside of us." In a statement, the ICC said Washington's move was the quote "latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the court.” Netherland's Foreign Minister Stef Blok wrote on Twitter that he was "very disturbed" by the U.S. stance, saying his nation supported the ICC.
Rights activists also assailed Trump's move.
Andrea Prasow, the Washington director for Human Rights Watch, said the action quote “demonstrates contempt for the global rule of law”.
But Trump administration officials say the Hague-based tribunal threatens to infringe on U.S. national sovereignty, and accused Russia of manipulating it to serve Moscow’s ends.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by U.S. forces and the CIA.
The investigation was given a green light in March.
While the U.S. has never been a member of the court, Afghanistan is part of the ICC, though Kabul has argued that any war crimes should be prosecuted locally.
This is not the first time Trump has taken aim at the ICC.
His administration imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions against ICC employees a year ago.
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