Washington: US has lifted sanctions and visa restrictions imposed by Donald Trump’s administration on officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who are investigating American military and intelligence officials for potential war crimes in Afghanistan and had also opened a probe against alleged crimes by American ally Israel in Palestinian territories.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday that President Joe Biden had revoked the sanctions imposed by the previous Trump administration on personnel of the Netherlands-based ICC.
The top US diplomat said the sanctions “were inappropriate and ineffective” and called for closer co-operation. “Today, President [Joe] Biden revoked Executive Order 13928 on ‘Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court (ICC),’ ending the threat and imposition of economic sanctions and visa restrictions in connection with the Court,” the US Secretary of State said.
“As a result, the sanctions imposed by the previous administration against ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor, have been lifted,” Blinken said.
The Biden administration also terminated the policy from 2019 that imposed visa restrictions on certain ICC personnel, Blinken said.
His statement said that Washington continued to “disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations” and that US maintained its longstanding objection to the ICC’s “efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel”.
The United States does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC. The Trump administration in September 2020 imposed economic sanctions on ICC officials, including Gambian- born Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
The sanctions froze any US assets Bensouda may have had. Earlier in 2020, Trump also authorized the use of such sanctions against the ICC, and also declared the situation a national emergency, calling the court a “threat” to the US The previous year, the Trump administration had revoked Bensouda’s U.S. visa, citing her efforts to investigate alleged crimes in Afghanistan.
It also said it would ban visas for others linked to the court, though it gave few details.