Gambia: On U.S. Sanctions On ICC Prosecutor!

President Donald Trump (file photo).
8 September 2020
opinion

The U.S. has recently imposed sanctions on senior officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC), including chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

The move comes in the backdrop of an executive order in June, authorising sanctions against "officials, employees and agents, as well as members of their immediate families" working at the ICC.  Earlier on, The Gambian-born ICC chief prosecutor opened an investigation into crimes allegedly committed by American soldiers in both Palestine and Afghanistan.

Recently, the European Union (EU) alongside other prominent European countries including the U.K. have unanimously rejected sanctions against Fatou Bensouda and co.

On Friday 4 September, the government of The Gambia called on the government of the United States of America to reverse sanctions imposed on Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor and other officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

These acts constitute gross impartiality of the Court in the fight against impunity for perpetrators of the most heinous crimes of international concern. It also constitutes an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the court's judicial proceedings.

Established in 2002, the ICC is the only permanent international criminal tribunal with mandate to investigate and prosecute the international atrocity crime of genocide, crime against humanity, war crimes and aggression, is the cornerstone of the system of international criminal justice. The conflict in Afghanistan has been marked by a laundry list of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

The U.S. and others may not be a party to the ICC, but they have a significant number of troops serving in the Middle East, some of whom have been widely accused of widespread wars crimes and crime against humanity.

Therefore, this makes the work of the court essential since these crimes have been committed outside U.S. jurisdiction. Countries should remember that the ICC's approach to international justice is designed to reinforce and motivate the role of national authorities to investigate and prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity, rather than to duplicate or supersede them.

Since the onset, ICC chief prosecutor, Bensounda has vowed to investigate alleged war crimes in both Palestine and Afghanistan despite protest and condemnation from the United States and Israel, who described the Court as 'illegitimate', as it violates all the principle of justice and had no authority.

We therefore call on the U.S. government to reverse its sanctions imposed on Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor and other officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and thus focus on a pandemic that has made the greatest nation a laughing stock in the world.

"Sanctions and boycotts would be tired to serious political dialogue."

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