“A stunning assault on rule of law”

September 4, 2020

Image of US troops in Afghanistan

In a significant escalation of its efforts to thwart accountability for alleged war crimes committed by US personnel in Afghanistan, the USA has imposed sanctions against senior staff at the International Criminal Court (ICC), including Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

In June, President Donald Trump issued an executive order authorising asset freezes and family entry bans against ICC officials. Last year, the US revoked Ms Bensouda’s visa.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has repeatedly sought to undermine and delegitimise the court – a ‘court of last resort’ for victims, which only steps in when domestic authorities fail to investigate credible allegations of serious human rights abuses.

Ms Bensouda is currently investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan, committed by US, Taliban and Afghan forces, plus US drone strikes in Pakistan.

“Even by the standards of the Trump administration, this is a stunning assault on the rule of law,” said Reprieve Director Maya Foa. “In imposing these sanctions, the USA is advertising its contempt not only for the ICC but for international law itself. America’s allies must object in the strongest terms and give the court their full support: anything less would be a betrayal of the thousands of victims of alleged war crimes in Afghanistan who see the ICC investigation as their last hope of justice.”