Germany, France criticize US for sanctions against ICC chief prosecutor | Africa | DW


Germany has added its voice to criticism of US sanctions against two senior officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC). German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Friday called the sanctions, which include the freezing of US assets of chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and one of his aides, as “a serious mistake”.

His comments follow calls by France and the EU on Thursday in Washington to withdraw the sanctions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that the US sanctions were “a serious attack on the Court and beyond that a questioning of multilateralism and the independence of the judiciary. France calls on the United States to withdraw the announced statement. measures. ”

Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said the US sanctions were “unacceptable” and “unprecedented”.

“The International Criminal Court plays a vital role in bringing justice to the victims of some of the world’s most horrific crimes. Its independence and impartiality are crucial characteristics of the court’s work, which are fundamental to the legitimacy of its judgment, ”Borrell said in a statement urging the United States to turn the tide.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo again announced the latest sanctions to ICC officials on Wednesday.

Bensouda and other ICC officials are already subject to a travel ban to the United States following the court’s investigation into allegations of torture and other crimes committed by US troops in Afghanistan.

American history of clashes with the ICC

The United States has never been a party to the ICC and in the past Pompeo has called the tribunal a “kangaroo court”.

Read more: Opinion: Donald Trump’s treacherous attacks on the International Criminal Court

Speaking on Wednesday, Pompeo said the United States would not tolerate what he called “the ICC’s illegitimate attempts to bring Americans to its jurisdiction.”

In an interview with DW in 2017, Bensouda, who has led the ICC since 2012, stressed that his decisions are dictated by law.

“I am a prosecutor, I collect my evidence and pass it on to judges, independent judges who have also been elected by the ICC Assembly of States Parties. If they don’t agree with my evidence, they would reject it, “she told DW.

Bensouda also underlined in the DW 2017 interview that the tribunal had “jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when they occur on the territory of a State Party”.

Afghanistan became a party to the ICC in 2003.

Who is Fatou Bensouda?

The Banjul-born lawyer served as Gambia’s justice minister from 1998 to 2000 under President Yahya Jammeh. Previously, she was state attorney and deputy director of public prosecutions to Jammeh’s predecessor, Dawda Jawara.

Jammeh fired her for her work in pursuing rights violations. At the time, human rights groups credited Bensouda for the swift prosecution of crimes against women and children.

Bensouda joined the ICC in 2004 when she was elected deputy prosecutor – a position she held until 2012 when she succeeded Argentinian Luis Moreno Ocampo as chief prosecutor of the ICC.

In 2017, Bensouda advised the court to consider filing a complaint for human rights violations committed during the war in Afghanistan, in particular for rape and torture allegedly committed by US troops and the Central Intelligence Agency.

What is his record?

As chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda has brought Congolese warlords such as Bosco Ntaganda, the “Terminator” and Thomas Lubanga to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

She has also presided over cases against former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and those of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto. The Kenyan leader was charged with crimes against humanity following a spate of post-election violence in 2007 and 2008. The charges were subsequently dropped for lack of evidence.

Read more: Fatou Bensouda: Critics “do not understand the ICC”

Bosco Ntaganda faces 18 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity

The trial of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, accused of destroying mausoleums in Timbuktu, are other important cases that Bensouda has successfully pursued., Mali. It was the first cultural destruction trial to open in The Hague.

Read more: Timbuktu war crimes trial begins in The Hague

Resentment of African countries towards the ICC has grown in recent years, mainly because its work is largely focused on the continent.

Gambians return to Bensouda

Despite his past ties to Yahya Jammeh, whose regime was marked by widespread abuse, Gambians have expressed their support for Bensouda.

Malik Jarju, an entrepreneur from the capital Banjul, told DW that “the sanctions are an attempt to interfere with the independence, freedom and the important work of the Court to fight crimes against humanity”.

Jarju sees the US sanctions against Bensouda as a diversionary tactic and called on the world to support the ICC “to protect the court and its officials”.

Modou Joof, a resident of Banjul, sees the US sanctions as an attempt to avoid “bringing justice to the Afghan victims of US atrocities”.

“This is why the ICC, as a last resort for hope of justice, must step in to prosecute American soldiers who have committed unspeakable atrocities against civilians in Afghanistan,” Joof told DW.


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