The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and one of her top aides for continuing to investigate war crimes allegations against Americans.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the moves as part of the administration’s pushback against the tribunal, based in The Hague, for investigations into the United States and its allies. The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the US or subject to US law and target prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Phakiso Mochochoko.
He said the court, to which the US has never been a party, was “a thoroughly broken and corrupt institution.”
“We will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction,” Pompeo told reporters at a State Department news conference. In addition to the sanctions imposed on Bensouda and Mochochoko, Pompeo said people who provide them with “material support” in investigating
Americans could also face US penalties.
Pompeo had previously imposed a travel ban on Bensouda and other tribunal employees because of its investigation into allegations of torture and other crimes by Americans in Afghanistan.
In March 2019, Pompeo ordered the revocation or denial of visas to ICC staff seeking to investigate allegations of war crimes and other abuses by US forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
The court was created to hold accountable perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity in cases where adequate judicial systems were not available. The US has not joined the ICC because of concerns the court might be used for politically motivated prosecutions of American troops and officials.