Zarif: ICC blackmailed by ‘lawless gang’ posing as diplomats

June 12, 2020 - 12:21

TEHRAN — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has attacked the U.S. sanctions on the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying the ICC was blackmailed by a “lawless gang” posing as diplomats.

“International Criminal COURT now blackmailed by lawless gang posing as diplomats,” Zarif wrote in his Twitter page on Thursday.

He added, “What else will it take for the global community to wake up & smell the consequences of appeasing the bully? And who else should the US terrorize before appeasers realize EVEN they might be next?”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Attorney General Willian Barr, on the heels of an executive order from President Trump, announced on Thursday that the U.S. will authorize economic sanctions against members of the ICC for investigating alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump signed the executive order to block the financial assets of court employees and bar them and their immediate relatives from entering the U.S.

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

The International Criminal Court announced that Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on court employees is not only an attack on the court and the system of international criminal justice, but on the interests of the victims of atrocities.

“These are the latest in a series of unprecedented attacks on the ICC,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.

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

The ICC was established in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in areas where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice. Some 123 states from across the world recognize its jurisdiction.

In March, the ICC began an investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan that could involve Americans – the first time the court’s prosecutor had been cleared to investigate U.S. forces. The decision was made on appeal after judges initially rejected the request from chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, whose visa was revoked by the U.S. in April 2019.

The case involves allegations of war crimes committed by Afghan national security forces, Taliban and Haqqani Network fighters, as well as U.S. forces and intelligence officials in Afghanistan since May 2003.

MH/PA

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