U.S. act in sanctioning ICC is cautionary: expert

June 14, 2020 - 19:36

TEHRAN - Yousef Molaei, an expert in international law, has said that the United States’ action in sanctioning the International Criminal Court’s judges and employees is “cautionary” and “preemptive”.

Washington sought to give a warning to the ICC to prevent it from investigating any case related to the U.S., Yousef Molaei told ISNA in an interview published on Sunday.

He added that the move falls within President Donald Trump’s “political gesture” in a series of his acts.

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 International Criminal Court (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.

Pompeo said, “We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court.”

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was made on appeal after judges initially rejected the request from chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, whose visa was revoked by the U.S. in April 2019.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.

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.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Thursday said the ICC is blackmailed by a “lawless gang” posing as diplomats.

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

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?”

Iranian presidential chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi also wrote on Saturday that the U.S. move in imposing sanctions on ICC judges and employees shows the “anti-human rights spirit” of the White House.

However, Vaezi added, the inefficiency of these sanctions “has been proved by resistance of the Iranian people”.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said in an article published on Saturday that “it seems that the bullying United States seeks to put its knee on the neck of the world’s credible lawyers and make it hard for justice and human values breathe.”

Rabiei added, “This action is enough for Iran not to take Trump’s readiness to hold talks seriously.”

NA/PA

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