US revokes entry visa of ICC chief over Afghan war crimes probe

Washington: The United States on Thursday revoked the entry visa for the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, over a possible investigation into alleged war crimes by US troops in Afghanistan.

“It is our understanding that should not have an impact on the Prosecutor’s travel to the US to meet her obligations to the UN, including regular briefings before the UN Security Council,” CNN quoted the ICC as saying in a statement.

“The Office of the Prosecutor has an independent and impartial mandate under the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Prosecutor and her Office will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favour,” it said.

Last month, US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo had warned that the US would revoke or deny visas to ICC personnel who led an investigation into the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US troops in Afghanistan.

Pompeo had said that the restrictions apply to “persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation.” He had even threatened to impose economic sanctions “if the ICC does not change its course.”
In November 2017, Bensouda had sought authorisation to open an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan.

According to a statement issued then, the ICC “determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe” that the members of the US armed forces and the CIA committed “war crimes.” .

However, Pompeo slammed the probe as an example of “politically motivated prosecutions of Americans.”
“The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty,” Pompeo was quoted as saying.

Last month, Pompeo had further noted that the visa restrictions “may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursed allied personnel including Israelis without allies’ consent.”

Palestine has urged the Hague-based judicial body to carry an investigation on Israel for its alleged human rights abuses in the occupied territories.

The United States is not a part of the ICC which aims at bringing justice to the perpetrators of the worst crimes against humanity.