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US revokes ICC prosecutor's visa over war crimes inquiry

Featured Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, center, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, last year. Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, center, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, last year.
NEW YORK, April 6, 2019 - The Office of  the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, Ms Fatou Bensouda, has confirmed that the US State Department has revoked her US visa, due to her announced intention to investigate allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan, including any that may have been committed by American forces.

The revocation of Ms. Bensouda’s visa came less than a month after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to reject the visas of persons  connected with court investigations involving American citizens.

While the United States has never signed on to the I.C.C. and does not recognize the court’s authority to prosecute Americans, it has cooperated with the court on many investigations. The United States had also played a central role in establishing international criminal law at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders and in the creation of modern tribunals.

Over a year ago, Ms. Bensouda, a Gambian lawyer for the ICC, which is based in The Hague, formally requested an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan. The inquiry would mostly focus on large-scale crimes against civilians attributed to the Taliban and Afghan government forces.

The Inquiry would also examine alleged C.I.A. and American military abuse in detention centers in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, and at sites in Poland, Lithuania and Romania, putting the court directly at odds with the United States.

The United States however was not very happy with that request, and Pompeo, in a March news briefing in Washington, said investigators “should not assume that you will still have or will get a visa, or that you will be permitted to enter the United States” if they are part of a I.C.C. investigation. He also said the United States was prepared to take further action.

“These visa restrictions will not be the end of our efforts,” Mr. Pompeo said at the time. “We are prepared to take additional steps, including economic sanctions if the I.C.C. does not change its course.”

His remarks drew the ire of many of the world's foreign ministers as well as Amnesty International which in a tweet said “The U.S.A. government should actively invite the prosecutor to come and meet, not ban her from traveling. Cooperation with the I.C.C. is in the U.S.A.’s interests — to share relevant information and show there is nothing to hide.”

A New York Times report said the decision to revoke Ms. Bensouda’s visa is not expected to affect her access to the United Nations headquarters in New York, which is protected by an agreement between the United States and the global body.

"She periodically travels to the United Nations to brief the Security Council on investigations into crimes in Libya and the Darfur region of Sudan, which were referred to the court by the council," the Times said.

It will also not affect her ability to carry out her duties at the I.C.C. or to move forward with a potential investigation, Ms. Bensouda is quoted as saying.

Last modified onMonday, 08 April 2019 07:57
  • Countries: United_States

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