US lifts sanctions on ICC Chief Prosecutor

Secretary of State Blinken says US lifting sanctions imposed by Trump on ICC Chief Prosecutor and another official.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

Fatou Bensouda
Fatou Bensouda

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken officially announced on Friday that the US is lifting the sanctions on the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, and on Phakiso Mochochoko, the Head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division of the Office of the Prosecutor.

“We continue to disagree strongly with the ICC’s actions relating to the Afghanistan and Palestinian situations. We maintain our longstanding objection to the Court’s efforts to assert jurisdiction over personnel of non-States Parties such as the United States and Israel,” Blinken said in a statement.

“We believe, however,” he continued, “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.”

Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September of 2020 slapped sanctions on Bensouda and Mochochoko, after earlier visa bans failed to head off the court's war crimes probe into US military personnel in Afghanistan.

The sanctions froze the US assets of the two officials, and bar any US individuals from doing business with them.

In June of 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing sanctions on individuals involved in the ICC investigation into alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan.

Trump also cited the ICC's war crimes investigations against Israel when signing the order.

While the expected move is likely to ease a state of open hostility by the US government toward the Hague-based international tribunal, it is unlikely to end tension between the court and the Biden administration, which, like prior administrations, contends that the tribunal lacks standing to prosecute Israeli and US nationals.

The Biden administration has previously said it plans to “thoroughly review” the sanctions imposed on the ICC by the Trump administration.

Last month it was reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had asked Biden to keep the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on the ICC in place.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of the Seventh Day of Passover in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)