Sanctions on ICC betray guilty conscience

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Washington has gone too far in authorizing sanctions against International Criminal Court staff just because of the court’s investigation into US troops, intelligence officials and those of allied nations, including those of Israel, for possible war crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The sanctions will block the financial assets of the court employees and bar them and their relatives from entering the United States. The US revoked the visa of the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, last year after she asked ICC judges to open an investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. The court has 123 member states, and the US has never been its member. But that does not mean that the US should be an outlaw in the international community nor does it give it the right to impose sanctions on an independent international judicial institution such as the ICC. Established in 2002, the court’s mission is to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in places where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice. By imposing sanctions on the ICC staff, the US has ridden roughshod over the rule of law in the international community. That US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo even denounced the tribunal as a “kangaroo court” points to the fact that the US has no respect for international justice. Pompeo said that the US cannot allow ICC officials and their families to come to the US to shop and travel and otherwise enjoy American freedoms as these same officials seek to prosecute the defender of those very freedoms. If what he said is not tongue in cheek, he should feel shame for bragging about the “American freedoms”, which include the freedom to launch wars against any countries it dislikes and the freedom to impose sanctions against any country or any individual who it feels has offended the US in one way or another. Washington’s latest announcement shows that it considers the US also has the freedom to punish any international institution or individual who dares to open a cupboard where it is trying to conceal a skeleton. That the US is so sensitive to the ICC’s investigation betrays its guilty conscience. It is reasonable to assume therefore that Washington must know that there are war crimes that have been committed by its troops or intelligence officers or those of its allied nations in Afghanistan. As such an investigation would do no discredit to the reputation of the US but only vindicate what it has done in Afghanistan. If there have been no war crimes committed by allied forces, Washington would have no reason to be so afraid of the ICC’s investigation. –CD