Did the American Forces commit war crimes in Afghanistan?
Well, investigations in efforts to answer this question, have led to sanctions imposed on International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda by the US.
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo clearly attributed this tough move to the Prosecutor’s investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
The list of those blacklisted includes Prosecutor Bensouda, Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division.
The sanctions were authorised by President Donald Trump in June 2020, and they allow for asset freezes and travel bans.
Popmpeo said, “Today we take the next step because the ICC continues to target Americans, sadly.”
Pompeo added that individuals and entities that continued to materially support Bensouda and Mochochoko would risk exposure to sanctions as well.
The State Department also restricted the issuance of visas for individuals Pompeo said were involved in the court’s efforts to investigate U.S. personnel, though he did not name those affected.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was concerned by Pompeo’s announcement, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
Dujarric said that “we trust that any restriction taken against individuals will be implemented consistently” with a decades-old U.S. deal with the United Nations to host the world body’s headquarters in New York.
Bensouda was given the go-ahead by the court in March to investigate whether war crimes were committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan military, and U.S. forces.
The United States revoked Bensouda’s entry visa last year over the possible Afghanistan inquiry. But under an agreement between the United Nations and Washington, she was still able to regularly travel to New York to brief the U.N. Security Council on cases it had referred to the court in The Hague.
Rights groups immediately condemned the U.S.
Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch international justice director, said it was a “stunning perversion of U.S. sanctions.”
“The Trump administration has twisted these sanctions to obstruct justice, not only for certain war crimes victims but for atrocity victims anywhere looking to the International Criminal Court for justice,” he said.
Bensouda has carved her place in the legal field and is recognised among women in leadership circles from her years of experience and handling of sensitive matters touching nations across the world.
She was involved during the Kenya ICC case at the Hague that involved Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Joshua Arap Sang among others.