14:38, September 03 175 0 theguardian.com

2020-09-03 14:38:04
US sanctions on ICC prosecutor unacceptable, says EU

The European Union’s top diplomat has called for Washington to reverse its sanctions on the international criminal court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and another member of the ICC, calling the measures “unacceptable and unprecedented”.

The US blacklisted Bensouda on Wednesday over her investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan, under sanctions authorised by Donald Trump in June that allow for asset freezes and travel bans.

Sanctions were also imposed on Phakiso Mochochoko, the head of The Hague-based ICC jurisdiction, complementarity and cooperation division.

“The sanctions ... are unacceptable and unprecedented measures that attempt to obstruct the court’s investigations and judicial proceedings,” Josep Borrell said. Washington should “reconsider its position and reverse the measures it has taken”, he added.

France’s foreign minister also condemned the sanctions and pledged his country’s unwavering support for the court and its staff.

“The measures announced are a grave attack against the court ... and put into question multilateralism and the independence of the judiciary,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian in a statement.

The sanctions reflect the Trump administration’s view that the tribunal threatens to infringe on US national sovereignty. They are the latest move by Washington to go against the stance of long-standing European allies, which have largely supported American policy and whose trade and security ties are intertwined with the US.

The EU condemned Trump’s decision to halt funding to the World Health Organization in April and says Trump’s withdrawal from other treaties and accords undermines western priorities.

The comments were echoed by the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, who said on Thursday that all countries should join hands in a global effort to procure and distribute potential vaccines against the coronavirus.

“We are in this together. No country will be safe if any other country in the world still has cases of Covid,” said John Nkengasong, the head of the Addis Ababa-based body.