International Criminal Court | The transnational arm of law

International Criminal Court | The transnational arm of law

US sanctions against ICC officials seen as a setback to multilateralism

Rarely is a court that dispenses justice outside of sanctions. Yet in a statement this week, the United States in fact announced sanctions, including asset freezes and visa bans, against two officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Those responsible were the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and the head of the Competence, Complements and Cooperation Division of the ICC, Phakiso Mochochok (who was sanctioned for having materially assisted Prosecutor Bensouda), for an investigation on alleged war crimes committed by US forces and the Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA) in Afghanistan since 2003. Announcing the decision, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the ICC “a completely broken and corrupt institution”, threatening that the United States would “not tolerate [the ICC’s] illegitimate attempts to bring Americans under its jurisdiction ”. In particular, Mr. Pompeo stressed that the United States had never ratified the “Rome Statute”, which created the ICC in 1998, and therefore was not subject to its decisions.

The investigation Ms. Bensouda opened in 2017 requested authorization to investigate war crimes, extrajudicial killings, torture and the targeting of civilian populations by the Taliban, Afghan forces, American forces and others. international armies stationed in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. . In her pre-trial observations, Ms. Bensouda said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that, since May 2003, members of the United States armed forces and the CIA have committed war crimes of torture and cruel treatment. , assault on personal dignity and rape and other forms of sexual violence in accordance with a policy approved by the American authorities ”, adding that the conclusions were based on the own conclusions of the committees of the United States Department of Defense and Senate Intelligence over the years.

Blow to world order

The US decision has been criticized by the UN, the EU, 10 members of the UN Security Council, including the UK and France, as well as several international human rights agencies, which all called for the sanctions to be canceled. They say the United States’ action was a setback to the rules-based international multilateral order, and the move to sanction anyone helping the ICC will deter victims of violence in Afghanistan from speaking out. Some have pointed out that unilateral U.S. sanctions would encourage other regimes accused of war crimes to ignore ICC rulings. The Rome Statute has been signed by 139 countries and 123 have ratified it through their parliaments and internal processes. Although the United States was part of the founding movement to build the ICC to try genocide and war crimes cases, especially after the failure of Rwandan courts, it decided not to ratify the Statute in 2002. Countries like Russia, China, and India, however, have never been in favor of the Rome Statute or the ICC and have never signed on.

For India, the decision was based on a number of principles. For starters, the ICC is a criminal court, unlike the International Court of Justice (which rules on civil cases), and assumes the right to pursue cases against countries that are not even signatories. India said the Statute gives the UN Security Council a role in terms that violate international law by giving the power to refer cases to the ICC, the power to block such references and the power to to bind non-state parties to such decisions, ”former Indian envoy Asoke Mukerji said The Hindu, explaining that India based its objections on the basis of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. India also opposed the omission of cross-border terror, the use of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in areas where the ICC would open its investigations.

Read also | ICC investigates ‘war crimes’ in Palestinian territories since 2014

While the US concerns about the ICC are shared by India and other non-signatories, the US action is seen as yet another blow to multilateralism. In recent years, the Trump administration has withdrawn from several United Nations agencies and international agreements, including the Human Rights Council, UNESCO, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Iran nuclear deal. Particularly at a time when the United States accuses China of ignoring international standards in the South China Sea and other regions, and of human rights violations in Xinjiang and Tibet, the refusal of United States on the ICC case in Afghanistan seems counterproductive.

Your email address will not be published.