Wednesday, October 20, 2021

US lifts sanctions against Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda

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The US government on Friday announced that it has lifted sanctions placed on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda.

The sanctions were imposed during the era of former President Donald Trump, whose administration expressed anger over attempts to probe its actions in Afghanistan.

The ICC prosecutor had indicated moves to investigate alleged war crimes by the US in Afghanistan, and US ally Israel in the Palestinian territories.

Gambia’s Fatou Bensouda who currently serves as the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) until June this year had her visa to the US revoked.

But on Friday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the sanctions “were inappropriate and ineffective” and called for closer co-operation.

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The US is not a member of the ICC but the Joe Biden presidency believes there was no need having hostile relations with the ICC.

Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the ICC’s Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, have also been removed from the Specially Designated Nationals list by the Biden administration while terminating a separate 2019 policy on visa restrictions on specific ICC personnel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for greater co-operation between the US and the ICC. Photo: Reuters

In a statement Mr Blinken said Washington continued to “disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations”, and that it objected to the ICC’s “efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel”.

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“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,” he said.

Fatou Bensouda was elected ICC’s chief prosecutor in 2011, replacing the Argentine lawyer Luis Moreno Ocampo.

Bensouda secured some major convictions including the recent case of former Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen who was convicted of war crimes just this month.

Despite being an African serving as the chief prosecutor of the ICC, many African leaders have criticized the court for targeting only Africans.

The ICC was established by a UN treaty in 2002 but countries like China, India, USA and Russia, have all refused to join.


ICC elects Britain’s Karim Khan as next chief prosecutor



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