International Criminal Court at The Hague
International Criminal Court at The Hague iStock

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday rejected US President Donald Trump’s authorization of sanctions against any official investigating American troops over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

In a statement, ICC president O-Gon Kwon said the US measures “are unprecedented. They undermine our common endeavor to fight impunity and to ensure accountability for mass atrocities. I deeply regret measures targeting Court officials, staff and their families.”

“The Court is independent and impartial. The ICC is a court of law. It operates in strict adherence to the provisions of the Rome Statute,” said Kwon.

“The Rome Statute system recognizes the primary jurisdiction of States to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes. As a court of last resort, the ICC is complementary to national jurisdictions. This is a cornerstone of the Statute,” the statement continued.

Kwon noted he would “convene an extraordinary meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly next week to consider how to renew our unwavering commitment to the Court.”

“I call upon the States Parties and all the stakeholders in the Rome Statute system to reiterate once more our relentless commitment to uphold and defend the principles and values enshrined in the Statute and to preserve its integrity undeterred by any measures and threats against the Court and its officials, staff and their families,” he concluded.

Trump earlier on Thursday signed an executive order imposing sanctions on individuals involved in the ICC investigation into alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan.

The order authorizes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to freeze assets of ICC officials involved in the investigation. In addition, Pompeo will be authorized to block these officials from entering the US.

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

The ICC’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, announced this past December that she intends to open a full investigation into alleged Israeli “war crimes”, but before opening a full probe, asked the ICC to rule on the territory over which it has jurisdiction because of the "unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation."

She recently ruled that “Palestine” is a state and the ICC has jurisdiction involving its cases.