Strong denunciation for US sanctions against ICC
Seventy-two countries at the United Nations on Monday offered strong support for the International Criminal Court as two of its officials face sanctions from Washington.
“We reconfirm our unwavering support for the Court as an independent and impartial judicial institution,” read a joint declaration signed by countries that included Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, the United States’ traditional allies.
Since the court’s creation, Washington has refused to recognize the ICC, which is based in The Hague and was founded to try cases of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
However, on September 2, the government of US President Donald Trump took the unprecedented step of sanctioning chief ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, along with another senior ICC official.
The two are investigating alleged war crimes involving US troops in Afghanistan.
The signatories, all from countries that signed the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, vowed “to preserve its integrity and independence undeterred by any measures or threats against the Court, its officials and those cooperating with it.”
The joint declaration said sanctions were “a tool to be used against those responsible for the most serious crimes, not against those seeking justice” and added that “any attempt to undermine the independence of the Court should not be tolerated.”
The statement “says loud and clear to the US administration: this is our court, back off,” Richard Dicker said, the director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.
For his part, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Richard Mills, said that the United States “reiterates its continuing, longstanding, principled objection to any attempt to assert ICC jurisdiction over nationals of States that are not parties to the Rome Statute, including the United States and Israel, absent a UN Security Council referral or the consent of such a State.”
He said that his government “seeks to protect US personnel from unjust and illegitimate prosecution by the ICC, which threatens US sovereignty.”