-Afghan war crimes probe
WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order authorizing U.S. sanctions against International Criminal Court employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
A senior Trump administration official, without providing details, said the investigation is “being pushed forward by an organization of dubious integrity” referring to the Hague-based ICC and accused Russia of having a role.
The order authorizes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to block assets in the United States of ICC employees involved in the probe, according to a letter sent by Trump to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi accompanying the order. It also authorizes Pompeo to block entry into the United States of these individuals.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014 including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by U.S. forces and the CIA. Trump has assailed the ICC, which was established in 2002 by the international community to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It has jurisdiction only if a member state is unable or unwilling to prosecute atrocities itself.
The U.S. action is the latest under Trump taking aim at an international body. Trump, who has promoted an “America First” policy during his presidency, last month said he would end the U.S. relationship with the World Health Organization. Afghanistan is a member of the ICC, though Kabul has argued that any war crimes should be prosecuted locally. The U.S. government has never been a member of the court. The Trump administration imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions against ICC employees a year ago.