Robert HARNEIS -TDO- (France) - The current United States administration has adopted a brazen approach in pressuring international institutions to conform.
Last week, Washington canceled the entry visaof ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, saying that anyone who investigated US military or intelligence personnel would be treated in the same way. The Gambian lawyer had been conducting a preliminary investigation into claims of torture, cruelty and sexual assault by US and allied personnel in Afghanistan, in 2003-2004.
Bensouda had found a “reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” and was reportedly planning to open a formal investigation.
After the International Criminal Court (ICC) declined to investigate claims of US atrocities in Afghanistan, US President Donald Trump welcomed the decision but said the ICC was “illegitimate” and US and allies beyond its reach.
“This is a major international victory, not only for these patriots, but for the rule of law,” the White House said in a statement, referring to the ICC decision to reject the request to investigate the actions of US military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan.
The US “holds American citizens to the highest legal and ethical standards,” and has consistently refused to join the ICC because of its “broad, unaccountable prosecutorial powers,” threats to US sovereignty, and “and other deficiencies that render it illegitimate,” Trump said in a statement.
Any attempt to target American, Israeli, or allied personnel for prosecution will be met with a swift and vigorous response.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Bensouda last month to “change course” or face US sanctions, however, declaring that the US was determined to protect its troops and civilians from “living in fear of unjust prosecution for actions taken to defend our great nation.”
While Washington has pushed for the creation of ad-hoc international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR), the US voted against the establishment of the ICC in 1998, and has refused to join or submit to its authority after the court was officially created in 2002.
They have however not hesitated to use the court as a political weapon as when Colonel Khaddaffi was targeted by the court during the US/NATO attack on Libya.
The court has been much criticized for only prosecuting Africans. Bensouda’s attempt to redress the balance has clearly failed.