EU denounces US sanctions on ICC prosecutor

The European Union (EU) has denounced the economic sanctions imposed by the US on an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor and a member of her office, saying they were “unacceptable”.

The sanctions are “unprecedented measures that attempt to obstruct the Court’s investigations and judicial proceedings”, Xinhua news agency quoted Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, as saying in a statement on Thursday.

The US on Wednesday imposed the sanctions against ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and the head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division Phakiso Mochochoko for continuing to to probe alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused the ICC of “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction”, while announcing the sanctions, in accordance with an executive order issued in June by President Donald Trump involving “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the ICC”.

The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the US or subject to American law.

In the statement, Borell said: “The US should reconsider its position and reverse the measures it has taken. Impunity must never be an option.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “we continue to closely follow developments on this matter”.

“We will be analyzing any possible implications that this development may have with respect to the implementation of the agreement,” he said.

The ICC in March authorized an investigation into possible war crimes in Afghanistan, including those that may have been committed by the US military and the Central Intelligence Agency, which could lead to the indictment of American military and spy personnel.

Also condemning the sanctions, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday: “The measures amount to a serious attack on the court and signatory states of the Treaty of Rome and, beyond this, a challenge to multilateralism and the independence of the judiciary.

“France calls on the US to reverse the announced measures.”

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