EU & France call on US to reverse ‘unacceptable’ sanctions against International Criminal Court’s war crimes investigators

US sanctions against two International Criminal Court officials are “unacceptable and unprecedented” and should be reversed, said the EU’s top diplomat, while the French foreign minister called them “a grave attack” on the court.

The sanctions are “unacceptable and unprecedented measures that attempt to obstruct the court’s investigations and judicial proceedings,” EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell said in a statement on Thursday.

The US should “reconsider its position and reverse the measures it has taken,” Borrell added.

His comments came shortly after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian condemned the sanctions as “a grave attack against the court,” saying it put into question “multilateralism and the independence of the judiciary.” 

On Wednesday, the State Department announced sanctions against ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda over her investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US troops in Afghanistan. Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, was also sanctioned for providing support for Bensouda’s investigation.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described the ICC as “a thoroughly broken and corrupted institution” and said the US “will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.”

Some 123 countries around the world are parties to the Rome Statute that created the ICC. The US was originally among them, but President George W. Bush withdrew the signature of his predecessor Bill Clinton and in 2002 the US Congress passed a law that authorized the use of military force to free any Americans or allies held by the ICC.

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