US authorities revoked International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s entry visa to the United States, her office and the US State Department confirmed Friday.
“It is our understanding that should not have an impact on the Prosecutor’s travel to the US to meet her obligations to the UN, including regular briefings before the UN Security Council,” her office said in a statement.
“The Office of the Prosecutor has an independent and impartial mandate under the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Prosecutor and her Office will continue to undertake that statutory duty with utmost commitment and professionalism, without fear or favor,” it said.
A State Department spokesperson reiterated that the US would “take the necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and to protect our people from unjust investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said Friday that they “expect the United States to live up to the agreement to allow for the travel of ICC staff members to do their work at the United Nations.”
The State Department spokesperson said the US will implement the visa restrictions “consistent with applicable law, including the UN Headquarters Agreement.”
“Under these measures, we will not interfere with travel to the UN for official UN purposes,” they said.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in mid-March that the US would revoke or deny visas to ICC personnel — a move meant to deter a potential investigation by the Hague-based judicial body into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by US troops in Afghanistan.
Pompeo said the restrictions apply to “persons who take or have taken action to request or further such an investigation.”
Pompeo also warned about potential economic sanctions “if the ICC does not change its course.”
The US is not a member of the ICC.
In November 2017, Bensouda sought authorization to open an investigation into crimes connected to the conflict in Afghanistan. According to a statement from the time, Bensouda’s office “determined that there is a reasonable basis to believe” that members of the US armed forces and the CIA committed “war crimes.” The ICC has not yet made a decision on whether to authorize that investigation.
Pompeo slammed the potential investigation an example of “politically motivated prosecutions of Americans.”
“The first and highest obligation of our government is to protect its citizens and this administration will carry out that duty,” Pompeo said at the time.
The secretary of state also warned in March that “these visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursed allied personnel including Israelis without allies’ consent.” The Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israel for alleged human rights abuses.