US lifts sanctions on ICC prosecutor, court official

Blinken said Washington was taking the step even though it continued "to disagree strongly with the ICC's actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations."

The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague March 3, 2011. (photo credit: REUTERS/JERRY LAMPEN/FILE PHOTO)
The entrance of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seen in The Hague March 3, 2011.
WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he is revoking Executive Order 13928 on “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court (ICC),” effectively ending the threat of sanctions or visa restrictions against the Court.
“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,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The State Department also lifted visa restrictions on certain ICC personnel. “These decisions reflect our assessment that the measures adopted were inappropriate and ineffective,” the announcement reads.
Blinken went on to say that the US “continues to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations.
“We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel,” he added. “We believe, however, that our concerns about these cases would be better addressed through engagement with all stakeholders in the ICC process rather than through the imposition of sanctions."
Blinken also noted that he is “encouraged that States Parties to the Rome Statute are considering a broad range of reforms to help the Court prioritize its resources and to achieve its core mission of serving as a court of last resort in punishing and deterring atrocity crimes.
“We think this reform is a worthwhile effort,” he added.
In June 2020, former president Donald Trump issued an executive order authorizing US sanctions against ICC employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
In announcing the action, Trump administration officials said the Hague-based tribunal threatened to infringe on US national sovereignty and accused Russia of manipulating it to serve Moscow's ends.
"We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court," former secretary of state Mike Pompeo said in announcing the move, warning other nations.
"I have a message to many close allies in the world. Your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fight terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside us," he said.