Britain supports ICC after Trump approves sanctions against it

Published June 14, 2020
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says UK "strongly supports the International Criminal Court in tackling impunity for the worst international crimes". — AFP/File
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab says UK "strongly supports the International Criminal Court in tackling impunity for the worst international crimes". — AFP/File

LONDON: Britain said on Saturday the International Criminal Court (ICC) should be able to work independently, without fear of sanction, two days after US President Donald Trump approved economic and travel sanctions against some of its employees.

“The UK strongly supports the International Criminal Court in tackling impunity for the worst international crimes,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

“We will continue to support positive reform of the court, so that it operates as effectively as possible. ICC officials should be able to carry out their work independently and impartially, and without fear of sanction.”

UN human rights office underlines need to protect the court’s independence

The US sanctions approved by Trump on Thursday targeted ICC employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

On Friday the UN human rights office regretted the impact the US sanctions might have on trials and investigations under way at the ICC, saying its independence must be protected.

“The independence of the ICC and its ability to operate without interference must be guaranteed so that it can decide matters without any improper influence, inducement, pressures, threats or interference, direct or indirect, from any quarter or for any reasons,” UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a UN briefing in Geneva.

“Victims of gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law and their families have the right to redress and the truth.”

For its part, France said the US decision to impose sanctions against employees of the ICC was an attack on states party to the Rome Statute and called on the US to withdraw those measures.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that the decision risks putting into question the independence of the justice system.

In announcing the president’s executive order, Trump administration officials said the Hague-based tribunal threatened to infringe on US national sovereignty and accused Russia of manipulating it to serve Moscow’s ends.

“We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in announcing the move.

“I have a message to many close allies in the world. Your people could be next, especially those from Nato countries who fight terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside us,” he said.

In a statement, the ICC said Washington’s move was the “latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the court”.

“These attacks constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the court’s judicial proceedings,” the ICC said.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2020

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