US revokes ICC prosecutor’s entry visa over probe into Afghan war crimes
The United States has revoked the entry visa of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, who is looking into the US military’s possible war crimes in Afghanistan.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last month that the United States would withdraw or deny visas for the ICC personnel probing the war crimes allegations against American forces.
United Nations human rights experts denounced Washington’s “improper interference” in the work of the court, which has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.
The US denial of visa to the ICC prosecutor also drew criticism from within the European Union.
“We can confirm that the U.S. authorities have revoked the prosecutor’s visa for entry into the US,” Bensouda’s office told the Reuters news agency in an e-mail on Thursday.
Last month, the US secretary of state also declared that Washington was ready to take additional steps, including economic sanctions, if the world body failed to change its course.
The United States has refused to cooperate with international investigators over their probe into possible war crimes of US military personnel in Afghanistan, claiming they violate US sovereignty.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has previously rebuked and questioned the International Criminal Court. One of National Security Adviser John Bolton’s first speeches was about the ICC, condemning its investigation into US personnel.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.
Obama announced in 2013 that he was pulling out all US troops from the Arab country. However, the US troops returned to Iraq a year later under the pretext of fighting the Daesh terrorist group.
Trump had also pledged during his election campaign to end US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he has changed his mind since entering office and prolonged the US military presence in both countries.
The ICC has repeatedly highlighted alleged abuses of detainees by American troops between 2003 and 2005 that it believes have not been adequately addressed by the US government.
Washington insists that the ICC does not have jurisdiction over American citizens because the US never ratified the Rome Statute that established the court in the first place.