WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Friday revoked sanctions imposed by Donald Trump on the highest prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as the brand new administration seeks a extra cooperative method, resolving an intense disagreement with European allies.
Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo final yr denounced the “kangaroo court” in The Hague and imposed each monetary sanctions and a US visa ban on its Gambian-born chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.
Pompeo acted after she launched an investigation into alleged struggle crimes by US army personnel in Afghanistan.
The court docket in The Hague additional aggravated the United States by opening an investigation into alleged struggle crimes within the Palestinian territories by Israel, a US ally which rejects the authority of the court docket.
Biden mentioned the United States nonetheless has considerations with the ICC.
But “the threat and imposition of financial sanctions against the Court, its personnel, and those who assist it are not an effective or appropriate strategy,” he mentioned in a press release.
Pompeo’s successor, Antony Blinken, mentioned the United States continued to “disagree strongly” with the strikes on Afghanistan and Israel.
“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 mentioned in a press release.
Biden revoked an govt order by Trump on the sanctions, additionally lifting sanctions towards senior ICC official Phakiso Mochochoko and visa bans on different court docket workers.
Bensouda is leaving her job in June and can be changed by British human rights lawyer Karim Khan, who now can open his work with out the burden of looming sanctions.
Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, the pinnacle of the Association of States Parties to the ICC, voiced hope that the choice “signals the start of a new phase of our common undertaking to fight against impunity” for struggle crimes.
France, which like different European allies had been aghast by the final administration’s transfer, hailed the reversal and pledged help for the ICC.
“This decision is excellent news for all who are committed to the fight against impunity, for multilateralism and for an international order founded on the rule of law,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian mentioned.
Blinken mentioned he was inspired by reforms being undertaken by the court docket, which has additionally come beneath scrutiny over inner issues together with judges’ salaries.
He famous that the United States has supported particular worldwide judicial initiatives to supply accountability for struggle crimes or crimes towards humanity together with within the Balkans, Cambodia and Rwanda.
“Our support for the rule of law, access to justice and accountability for mass atrocities are important US national security interests that are protected and advanced by engaging with the rest of the world to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Blinken mentioned.
Blinken introduced the choice days earlier than the administration wanted to answer a lawsuit towards Trump’s govt order filed by the Open Society Justice Initiative, which promotes human rights and democracy.
James Goldston, govt director of the initiative, welcomed Biden’s motion as a “restoration of US ideals.”
“The United States has a long history of using sanctions to punish human rights abusers, but never before was this tool used to punish an independent court that seeks justice for victims of atrocities,” he mentioned.
Human Rights Watch praised Biden for ending “this unprecedented and downright warped use of sanctions” and turning the web page on Trump’s “assault on the global rule of law.”
Trump in his last weeks in workplace granted clemency to a few US troops convicted of crimes within the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, with one of the boys later assembly him.
Critics mentioned Trump’s intervention undercut his argument within the ICC sanctions — that the United States had its personal judiciary succesful of guaranteeing accountability.
While Democratic administrations have been extra supportive of the ICC, the United States stays out of the Rome Statute that established the tribunal with little prospect of it becoming a member of amid intense opposition from the Republicans.
The US Congress in 2002 even handed a regulation authorizing army pressure to free any US personnel held by the court docket, theoretically giving the president authority to invade NATO ally The Netherlands.